Posted March. 01, 2005 22:52,
President Roh Moo-hyun spoke of the Korea-Japan history dispute in a firm tone during the ceremony marking the 86th anniversary of the March 1st Independence Movement. This is greatly different from his stance last July when he seemed to almost give Japan a pardon, saying, I will not raise the history dispute during my term, at the bilateral summit. Though he added the conditional phrase, The history dispute is not something we can resolve unilaterally, the president in fact admitted that his past statement had not been prudent.
It is regrettable that Japans attitude toward the Korea-Japan history disputes has not changed since President Rohs remarks at the summit last year. Japanese officials continued to make preposterous remarks regarding the history issue. The declaration of Takeshima (Japans name for Dokdo) Day of Japans Shimane Prefecture and the Japanese Ambassador to Koreas remarks of Japans clear ownership of Dokdo has overshadowed the Year of Korea-Japan Friendship, designated to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two nations. Yesterdays statements of President Roh were inevitable considering the public sentiment and are provocative to Japan.
Japan must respond to this statement. It should show direct and specific actions instead of temporary stopgap measures and responses as it has in the past. President Roh has publicly mentioned the issue of compensation from Japan. It would be difficult to resolve the history dispute, which has long been a stumbling block in bilateral relations, without compensation as well as thorough investigations.
As the president stated, it is right that the apology and compensation of Japan is voluntary. It is desirable for Japan to be sincere in apologies and compensation for future-oriented relations between the two nations.
Based on past experiences, we know that the history dispute is full of problematic factors. It has been proved that stating, We will not raise the history dispute as an issue during this term, is complacent and self-undermining. The government should respond more prudently and strategically to the Korea-Japan history dispute.