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[Editorial] Standing Up to Japan

Posted April. 26, 2006 03:17,   


President Roh Moo-hyun announced in a special statement yesterday that “Japan’s claim to Dokdo is equivalent to justifying its criminal history, including invasive wars and massacres,” and stated that he will alter the course of diplomacy to Japan from “quiet diplomacy” to a more forceful stance. He emphasized that “until Japan is rectified of its mistake, we will use national capacities and diplomatic means.” He announced an “all-out diplomatic war against Japan.”

President Roh’s perspective of the Dokdo conflict being a territorial issue as well as being linked to Japan’s need to rectify its historical perspective is correct. As the first Korean territory to be forcefully annexed to Japan after the Russo-Japanese war of 1904, Dokdo has a “special historical significance,” as President Roh pointed out. Japan also connived to announce the annexation of Dokdo viva voce after compromising Korea’s diplomatic sovereignty through the 1905 Eulsa Treaty.

Japan is now insisting on its stance to force itself into an opening made by Korea, which aimed to pursue quiet diplomacy in order to avoid having the Dokdo issue evolve into an international conflict. After the stopgap approach taken by the intergovernmental agreement on the Dokdo conflict, Shotaro Yachi, the Japanese vice minister of foreign affairs, made a coercive statement by saying, “Should Korea make the wrong move, we will launch into investigations off the Dokdo waters.” Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi also visited the Yasukuni Shrine immediately after President Roh announced in the 2004 summit meeting, “we will not make an issue of our past history.”

On President Roh’s statement yesterday, the mainstream Japanese sentiment mused that the announcement was “for domestic consumption, for cathartic purposes of the Korean people.” Instead of reacting emotionally, we should devise a waterproof and persuasive logic in order to inform the international society. We should also reflect on the fact that though there are a plethora of “Dokdo promoters,” “Dokdo scholars” are scarce. We should not repeat the mistake of having Japan instead of Korea register the designation of the Dokdo waters.

We should reflect on the cause and effects of our diplomatic stance, on whether Japan perceives Korea in an inconsequential light, due to recent slackening of Korea-U.S. relations. We should observe the Korea-Japan relations in an international perspective in order to find solutions.