Posted March. 15, 2005 22:32,
Today is the day that Japan`s Shimane Prefecture`s Assembly is going to deal with the legislation bill for "Takeshima Day (Dokdo`s Japanese name)" at its plenary session. If the local assembly pushes forward with the legislation of the bill, Korea-Japan relations will be enveloped in great turmoil. The Korean government has already made it clear that "Dokdo is a matter of sovereignty, making it an issue affecting Korea-Japan relations." This means that Korea cannot overlook Japan`s territorial provocation even if it makes other sacrifices.
At this time, the only solution is to repeal the "Takeshima Day" bill by the Shimane Prefecture`s Assembly. The legislation of the "Takeshima Day" is not only unjustifiable when we look back on the extraordinary history between Korea and Japan, but it also has no realistic and practical benefit for Japan. Shimane Prefecture is said to have decided to introduce the legislation this year as it is the 100th anniversary commemorating February 22, 1905. Yet what kind of year was 1905? It was a time when imperialistic Japan threatened the Joseon Dynasty to sign a contrived merger treaty for colonialization.
Even though it may be Japan`s local assembly, the constituents are doubtlessly aware of the historical facts. If they faced history, it would be the responsibility of Japan and the Shimane Prefecture to reflect on past wrongdoings rather than legislate the "Takeshima Day" commemorating Dokdo`s forced incorporation into Japan. As a nation having experienced bitter defeat after waging a war, and as a nation that reveres peace as its supreme constitution spirit, what Japan should do as a civilized nation is self-evident.
When local and central governments` views and interests come into conflict, it is natural to respect the latter`s will, which puts national interest first. Actions that ignore the central government`s worries are nothing more than perverted heroism or populistic politics. I would like to ask whether Japan`s 46 local governments, excluding Shimane Prefecture, endorse Shimane`s sophism. If the Japanese government believes that Korea-Japan relations are more important than the "Takeshima Day", it should stop making excuses that it "cannot do anything because it is a local government affair" and instead persuade Shimane Prefecture to abandon the idea.
Year 2005 is the "year of Korea-Japan friendship" as the two governments have declared. Many possible exchanges in fields such as culture, tourism, industry, sports, youths, and local governments are waiting. The events of this year were expected to strengthen the true bilateral partnership upon the 40th anniversary of the normalization. The legislation of the "Takeshima Day" would make such expectations futile.
We will not lose our hope until the end. Korea and Japan cannot live as enemies. There are so many mutual issues that the two countries must join hands for mutual benefits and interests - solving the North Korea nuclear issue; regional security; promoting an FTA and economic cooperation; and collaboration on the international diplomatic stage. This is why the Korean government has emphasized "quiet diplomacy" concerning the Dokdo issue despite being aware of the national ethos. If the Japanese push ahead with the legislation of the "Takeshima Day," however, the Korean people will not sit back and watch, for it would be a mockery to Korea. I once again urge Japan to repeal the legislation of the "Takeshima Day."