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March against anti-Korea rallies signals possibility to reconcilation

March against anti-Korea rallies signals possibility to reconcilation

Posted September. 24, 2013 04:19,   


A “March on Tokyo” against recent anti-Korea rallies in Japan took place at a park in Shinjuku, Tokyo on Sunday. More than 1,000 citizens participated in the rally, with some holding up banners reading “No to racism,” and “Let’s get along well.” The march is significant because it is a voluntarily organized campaign to check offensives on Korea by ultra-leftists in the island country.

As a package of three contentious issues - Japan’s history distortion, terrestrial claim over the Korean islets of Dokdo and its denial of comfort women also known as sex slaves - have surfaced en masse, it is fair to say that Korea-Japan relations are experiencing the worst situation ever since 1973, when then Korea’s liberal political leader Kim Dae-jung was kidnapped in Japan. Due to lack of trust between their leaders, there is no hint in sight that bilateral relations will improve any time soon. Korea-Japan relations are so treacherous that they are oftentimes called a “rollercoaster.” The problem is that confrontational relations between the two countries have continued for more than a year. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe maintains his hardline stance towards Japan’s neighbors by banking on his high domestic approval rating, Japan’s economic rebound, and its successful bid to host the 2020 Winter Olympics in Tokyo. Korea can hardly afford to send overture first to Japan under this circumstance.

It is obvious that Korea and Japan need each other reciprocally. Clear evidence for this is that exchange of people, things and money between the two is virtually not affected by political confrontation at all. As countries that share liberal democracy and market economy, the two nations have many issues to cooperate, including policy toward China and issues involving North Korea. News reports say that foreign ministers of the two countries will meet at a United Nations General Assembly on Thursday. At the Korea-Japan Festival held in Tokyo on Saturday and Sunday, a member of Japan’s royal family, the Japanese Prime Minister’s wife, and the Japanese foreign minister participated in person. It is an open secret that two Korean members of the International Olympic Council have endorsed Japan’s successful bid to host Olympics in Tokyo.

What is more important is a summit between the leaders of the two countries. The APEC summit, which will take place in Bali, Indonesia early next month, and the ASEAN + 3 summit scheduled in Brunei, are great occasions that the two leaders can meet each other and seek to find a breakthrough. They could also take advantage of the Korea-China-Japan summit, over which Seoul agreed with Beijing to hold in Korea by year’s end. Amid a rapidly-changing international environment, Korea cannot afford to remain complacent or negligent, only bragging, “We have nothing to lose against Japan.” President Park Geun-hye made success in Korea’s relations with the U.S. and China. It is time that Korea seriously considers its ties with Japan. Japan needs to positively react to Korea’s agony as well.