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[Editorial] Stop Provoking Korea With the Dokdo Issue

Posted March. 10, 2005 22:35,   


The Commission of General Affairs of Shimane prefecture in Japan passed an act yesterday to set February 22 as “Takeshima Day.” Takeshima is the Japanese name for Korea’s Dokdo. Thirty-five out of 38 congressmen of the prefecture voted for the act and it is set for passage in Japan’s general assembly on March 16.

The decision made by the Shimane prefecture legislature has shaken the partnership between Korea and Japan that was established after much grueling effort. Consequently, officials in Japan have expressed concern over this act. The Japanese Foreign Ministry relayed a statement released by the Korean government and the protests from the Korean general public to the governor of Shimane prefecture and the chairman of the legislature after the act was put on the table. Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said, “Unless [the passage of this act] brings back Takeshima back to Japan, this is practically meaningless.” He understands that the bill is not in line with Japan’s national interests.

Shimane prefecture’s congress, however, remained obstinate despite it all. This is a foolish act that stems from populist shortsightedness and that places the prefecture’s sentiment before the national interest.

The Japanese emperor and prime ministers have apologized for Japan’s colonial occupation. Through such progress, former Korean President Kim Dae-jung and former Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi released a “Joint Declaration of Renewed Partnership of Korea and Japan in the 21st Century” in 1998. The keywords of the declaration are overcoming the ill-fated past, promoting reconciliation and cooperation, and building a future-oriented relationship. The designation of the year 2005 as the “Year of Friendship for Korea and Japan” in commemoration of 40th anniversary of normalization of diplomatic relations is also a fruit of such efforts.

Korea and Japan have much cooperative work to do, starting with promoting cooperation for regional security, expanding both countries’ influential power in international diplomatic settings, achieving mutually beneficial economic growth through establishing free trade agreements, and establishing joint countermeasures to face China. Shimane prefecture’s act is not going to help. It will only broaden the fissure. The establishment of “Takeshima Day” must be withdrawn.