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Pres. Lee Proposes Tax for Korean Reunification

Posted August. 16, 2010 11:20,   


President Lee Myung-bak proposed a tax Sunday to prepare for the reunification of the Korean Peninsula in his Liberation Day speech.

He suggested a “fair” society as a key value for administration in the latter half of his term and urged the National Assembly to swiftly reform election systems and administrative districts to advance politics and begin discussion on a constitutional amendment.

In a ceremony to celebrate the 65th Liberation Day at Gwanghwamun Square, he made a speech entitled “Marching Together toward a Greater Republic of Korea.”

On inter-Korean relations, President Lee urged both Koreas to overcome their division and proceed with the goal of peaceful reunification. His three-phase plan for reunification involved achieving a peace community first, then an economic community, and finally a community of a unified Korean nation.

“Unification will happen,” he said with confidence. “It is therefore our duty to start thinking about real and substantive ways to prepare for unification such as the adoption of a unification tax. I ask that these and other issues related to this be discussed widely and thoroughly by all members of our society.”

In accordance with President Lee’s proposal, the Unification Ministry and the Strategy and Finance Ministry will begin devising plans while expanding discussion of the idea. This is the first time for the president to mention the necessity of the tax, though the private sector had proposed it earlier.

Some say President Lee made his proposal with possible contingencies in North Korea in mind.

On this speculation, the presidential office said, “The proposal has no relation to specific conditions in the North. Please understand that the proposal was made under the recognition that preparation for unification over a mid- to long-term perspective is necessary in addition to maintaining the current state.”

“On the amount, collection method and use of the tax, social consensus is necessary.”

Following his pledges of “green growth” in 2008 and “centrist pragmatism” last year, President Lee presented a “fair society” this year as the theme for his Liberation Day speech.

“A fair society constitutes the ethical and practical infrastructure for the advancement of the republic,” adding, “I will redouble my efforts to make sure that the principles needed to build a fair society are well observed in all sectors of the nation.”

He also said no time should be wasted in reforming the electoral system and reorganizing administrative districts to tackle the politics of extreme confrontation and perennial regionalism as well as promoting regional development and administrative efficiency.

“If necessary, a revision of the Constitution could be discussed at the National Assembly,” he added.

On relations with Japan, President Lee said, “For the first time a few days ago, the Japanese prime minister, on behalf of his government, issued a special formal statement to Korea reflecting on and apologizing for colonial rule imposed on Korea against the will of the Korean people. I have taken note of Japan’s effort, which represents a step forward.”

“There still remain issues that must be resolved, however. The two countries should take concrete measures to forge a new relationship over the next 100 years.”