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[Editorial] Time for Japan to Respond

Posted March. 17, 2005 22:49,   


The government has announced a “New Doctrine” aimed at dramatically revising our diplomatic policy line toward Japan. The doctrine seeks to deal sternly with Japan’s distortion of the facts about Dokdo and Korea-Japan history as an act that continues the offense of colonial aggression, to clearly proclaim our just and right cause to the international community, and to implement diplomacy toward Japan that is based on universal human values and common sense. It also specifies that human and material exchange between the two countries will continue as before.

This doctrine constitutes a declaration of our government’s intention to abandon its past line of “quiet diplomacy” in favor of “clearly saying what needs to be said.” The primary responsibility for pushing the situation to this point lies with Japan. It is being pointed out that the reason why the Japanese government is turning a blind eye on its past mistakes and taking such an obstinate stance is because the core of its political body has been replaced by a post-war generation relatively free from the responsibilities of the war. However, accountability for inflicting untold pain and suffering on a neighboring country should not be the lot of a particular government or individual. For good or ill, the responsibility must be shouldered by “Japan” as a nation.

Japan has not yet fulfilled its historical duty to do its utmost in restoring Korea’s pride and healing the wounds it has inflicted. The Korean government’s “New Doctrine” asks in earnest whether Japan has the intention of carrying out this duty. It is now time for Japan to respond honestly and plainly to this question.

Our government also needs to look back with objectivity and humility on its past policies toward Japan. It was reckless for the president himself to state publicly, “The past will not be a factor in diplomacy,” with no consideration of the consequences. This statement greatly lowered our government’s credibility and leverage at the negotiating table. The ultimate goal of diplomacy is the maximization of national interests. What methods and strategies will be enlisted in achieving this goal depends on the nation’s power and capabilities.

The harsh reality demands the establishment of economic power, security capability, and smooth international relations for the perpetuation of the nation. It is also a reality that Japan is an important component in our pursuit of this endeavor. This is why the “New Doctrine” describes Japan as “a partner and a participant in a common destiny.” The government cannot be so conscious of public sentiment that it sacrifices our own national interests. Persuading the people when public sentiment and national interests collide is another important capability for a nation.