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Roh: Korea, Japan Still Have Issues

Posted March. 02, 2006 03:12,   


At a ceremony for the 87th anniversary of the Independence Movement of March 1 at the Sejong Center in Seoul yesterday, President Roh Moo-hyun said, “If Japan is to become a normal country or a leader in the world, it should first secure the trust of the international community by behaving according to the conscience and duties of humanity, rather than by changing its laws and rearming its military.

“Over the past year, visits to Yasukuni Shrine, the distortion of history textbooks, and the Dokdo issue have remained unchanged. It is natural for Korean people to have suspicions that Japan might justify its past aggression and colonization and assume hegemony of the region.”

President Roh also said, “Japan says that Yasukuni Shrine visits by publicly elected officials are personal visits and internal affairs not to be meddled with by other countries. But the behavior of a country’s leader should be judged by the standards of universal conscience and past experience,” and urged Japan’s politicians, including Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, to stop visiting Yasukuni Shrine.

Roh’s statement can be interpreted as a message to Japan that unless it fundamentally changes its attitude and its publicly elected officials stop visiting Yasukuni Shrine, it will be difficult for Korea to mend fences with Japan.

“Korea is asking Japan for actions appropriate to an apology, not repeated apologies,” Roh said. “Japan should abstain from actions that could evoke suspicion rather than just stating that those suspicions by neighboring countries are groundless. The precedent set by other countries, such as Germany could be the standard.”

Meanwhile, regarding the efforts to correct Korea’s past history, Roh said, “If Korea wants to tell Japan to rectify its wrong vision of history, Korea should correct its own history, if there are any erroneous parts,” and added that the current push to clarify Korea’s past history should be appreciated from a historical point of view and moved forward with accordingly.

Yeon-Wook Jung jyw11@donga.com