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[Editorial] Japan’s New Gov’t to Boost Bilateral Ties

Posted September. 16, 2009 05:42,   


With the official launch of Japan’s new administration led by Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Hatoyama today, all eyes are on how the Hatoyama government will lead the country and deal with foreign policy. The Democratic Party of Japan won a landslide victory over the long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party in last month’s general elections.

Key officials of the new government mostly favor Korea and want improved bilateral relations. Incoming Prime Minister Hatoyama publicly announced his opposition to visiting the maligned Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. Korea was the first country he visited after taking over his party in May, and President Lee Myung-bak was the first head of state Hatoyama called after the election victory. Japanese Foreign Minister-designate Katsuya Okada told Korean reporters in Tokyo in late July that bilateral relations will grow stronger if Hatoyama takes over. Among members of the Korea-Japan Forum, a gathering of Korean and Japanese figures from all walks of life, the number of Democratic Party lawmakers is larger than that of the Liberal Democratic Party. Against this background, many expect bilateral relations will take a step further.

President Lee said in interviews with Yonhap News and Kyoto News Agency yesterday that the launch of Japan’s new administration will bolster bilateral ties. He also said he hopes the Japanese emperor visits Seoul under the condition that Tokyo owns up to its past atrocities against Korea. Korea and Japan both belong to the Group of 20 and are leading democracies in Asia, and stronger bilateral ties will help them collectively raise their influence over the global stage.

The two countries also have to cooperate on world problems such as North Korea’s nuclear ambition, the global economic crisis, the construction of an Asian community, global warming, and green growth. The launch of the Hatoyama government should be an opportunity for Seoul and Tokyo to produce meaningful results for not only the two countries, but also for peace in Asia and the world through close cooperation and coordination.

While pursuing future-oriented relations with Korea, officials of Japan’s new government must take the utmost care not to make reckless comments that can upset Koreans, given that blunt remarks from certain Japanese leaders have frequently soured bilateral relations. Even if a solution to the territorial dispute over the Dokdo islets does not come right away, Japan must refrain from hurting Koreans’ national sentiment.