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“President Roh Has Nothing More to Say… Into a Frontal Diplomatic War”

“President Roh Has Nothing More to Say… Into a Frontal Diplomatic War”

Posted March. 23, 2005 22:27,   


President Roh Moo-hyun made more harsh words against Japan on March 23.

President Roh’s letter to the Korean people contains some aggressive words, including, “Korea will completely eradicate the root of the problem,” “Korea may have a tough diplomatic relationship with Japan,” “Fights can’t be solved just in a couple of days,” “Korea will no longer overlook,” and “Korea will win.”

The expressions go beyond the level of the New Doctrine to Japan of the National Security Council’s (NSC) Standing Committee which states its intention to change its “silent diplomacy” on March 17.

In particular, the Korean government has cut off its retreat, while not allowing room to solve the problem through dialogue between leaders by launching a frontal attack on Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine.

The Korean government also made it clear that it oppose Japan’s goal of membership in the UN Security Council, saying that if Japan wants to be a leading country in Asia and the world, it should behave in accordance with the moral obligation of history and restore its faith in the international community.

Due to the Korean government’s hard-line attitude, some even said that Korea virtually declared all-out diplomatic war against Japan.

Kim Byeong-joon, a chief policy planner at Cheong Wa Dae in charge of the permanent governmental organization for the countermeasures of Dokdo and history textbook issues, firmly stated that no matter what Japan does, Korea will go its own way and that unlike the past governments, the Korean government is currently free from the past.

Above all, President Roh prescribed the issues of Dokdo, history textbook distortion, and Japanese politicians’ visit to a shrine as the “revival of hegemonism,” not just pending issues between the countries.

President Roh reportedly started writing the letter to the Korean people on March 19 and polished it until the morning of March 23.

Sources said that Roh decided to handle the matter personally after concluding the Japanese government and Koizumi’s lukewarm response to the declaration of a new doctrine by the NSC on March 17.

An official commented that the interpretation by the Japanese press that the Korean government’s conversion to its hawkish attitude towards Japan was to recover its popularity at home underestimated the Korean government’s stance, and that the change was followed by the strategic judgment that this was a time to strongly check Japan’s attempts to wipe out the past in which it brought on war under hegemonism by becoming a permanent member of the NSC.

However, some point out that President Roh’s popularity in conducting state affairs rose by more than 10 percent after heightened tension between Korea and Japan.

Public opinion experts explain that President Roh’s support rate recently exceeded 40 percent range and is still on the rise towards 50 percent.

Jung-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com taewon_ha@donga.com