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Resolution Versus Indifference

Posted April. 07, 2005 23:24,   


Korean and Japanese diplomats are clashing all over the world. It seems that the bilateral diplomatic conflicts centering on Japan’s claim for the Dokdo dominium and history distortion are extending into an earnest diplomatic war.

Attending the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) in Islamabad, Pakistan, Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon had a conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura yesterday and made clear, “It is absolutely inexcusable that Japan has claimed the Dokdo dominium in its history textbooks.”

Minister Ban opened fire at the outset of open conference, which is usually a scene of exchanging formal well-wishing remarks, saying, “I’m sorry to meet today when Korea-Japan relations are unwell and unpleasant. He subsequently stated, “The situation is the way it is since [Japan’s] will for a cooperative relationship in the future is doubtful because it was known that the retrogressive claim for the Dokdo dominium written in the new history books was a result of the Japanese government’s intention. It is difficult to accept this fact, not only as Korean foreign minister, but also as a Korean.”

Minister Ban alluded that a future confrontation on the international stage is inevitable, saying that “our people are greatly enraged, and our government has to accept our people’s will and reflect it in our diplomacy.”

As Minister Ban’s remark became severe, Japanese Minister Machimura’s face stiffened and remarked, “I also think that the Korea-Japan relation is not good and share Minister Ban’s critical feeling that prolongation of such circumstances will not be positive for the bilateral relationship.” Yet he did not offer any clear response.

Korea and Japan also clashed at the 61st U.N. Commission on Human Rights held in Geneva, Switzerland on April 6.

Ambassador to Permanent Mission of Korea in Geneva, Choi Hyuk, criticized, “Japan gravely infringed upon human rights during World War II, including forced drafting and comfort women. Nonetheless, Japanese history books are recently distorting or deleting such facts.

“Japan should correct its mistakes before the former comfort women all pass away. If not, it will remain as an irreparable disgrace in history,” Ambassador Choi charged.

To the above, Japanese Ambassador to Permanent Mission in Geneva Hidenobu Sobashima retorted, “Japan has been expressing sincere apology and regret through official statements by former prime ministers and chief cabinet secretaries.”

Subsequently, Ambassador Choi shot back, “The Japanese government claims that the comfort women problem has been legally settled, but by approving history books that distort or delete relevant human rights infringements, it disappointed us once again.”

Since the government plans to actively make an issue of Japan’s history problem at various international institutions, such clashes are expected to become more frequent.

Jong-Koo Yoon Won-Jae Park jkmas@donga.com parkwj@donga.com