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[Editorial] Japanese Provocations

Posted April. 24, 2006 03:22,   


In the consultation meeting of Korean and Japanese vice foreign ministers on April 22, it was agreed that Japan would suspend its attempt to survey waters nearby the disputed islands of Dokdo and take its survey ships back, while Korea postponed registering Korean names on ocean features near the islands. With regard to such a diplomatic makeshift deal, China’s Beijing Times commented, “It looks like a ‘win-win approach’ on the surface, but in reality, Japan took the lead and was at an advantage,” as Japan made a success of stopping Korea from registering Korean names at least for now, and it “does not necessarily have to survey waters” as it has never done so throughout history.

The newspaper indicated, “In the face of provocation, Korea drew international attention with its willingness to exercise military power, but this also befits Japan’s intention to create disputes over the Dokdo islands.

Before the diplomatic negotiation was over, a Japanese-Korean, Professor Hosaka Yuji of Sejong University, said, “Japan is a genius of provocation.” Experiencing numerous civil wars, Japan, he believes, “makes careful preparatory operations by which it wins a victory even before a fight; its recent provocation regarding the waters surveying is such a prepared one.”

Japan did not give up surveying entirely. It has already laid the groundwork for resuming provocation with cheap investment of “two ships and several diplomats” anytime after the agreed “suspension of surveying until the end of June” is over.

Here lies the issue of our concerns. We should proudly safeguard our sovereignty over the Dokdo islands against this “genius of provocation,” not undermine the overall national interests by taking into account the big picture of Korea-Japan relations, and make diplomatic efforts that can be supported by the international community. The negotiation for the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which will restart in May, will be the touchstone of our efforts.

In settling the dispute for the moment, the United States reportedly put “pressure” on Japan. At a time when uncertainties in Northeast Asia are intensifying due to the rapid emergence of China, the U.S. might have felt uneasy about the confrontation of its two allies. China, which is in conflict with Japan regarding the development of gas fields in the East China Sea, surely has observed this dispute with great interest. We should capitalize on these dynamics of international politics in Northeast Asia. To this end, strengthening our diplomatic capabilities is more than urgent. We do not have the luxury of simply keeping repeating the word, “independence.”