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Seoul under fire for lackluster response to Tokyo`s territorial provocation

Seoul under fire for lackluster response to Tokyo`s territorial provocation

Posted April. 10, 2015 07:18,   


"Quiet diplomacy or lazy diplomacy?"

The diplomatic community in Tokyo is questioning if the South Korean government is properly responding to Japan`s highest ever territorial provocation on Dokdo, South Korea`s easternmost islets. While it may not be necessary to react to every detail of Japan`s "noise marketing," critics say that Seoul is not making any efforts other than issuing protesting statements or summon the Japanese ambassador to Seoul in a protest against the provocations.

In the meantime, the number of Japanese people believing that Dokdo, which they call Takeshima, is Japanese territory is rising sharply. According to the result of the Japanese Cabinet`s first Dokdo survey in 2013, 57.4 percent of those polled said the island was Japanese territory. In last year`s survey, the percentage jumped to 73.2 percent.

Japanese school textbooks and media reports claiming that Dokdo belongs to Japan are based on unilateral arguments in materials issued by the Japanese government. However, the South Korean government is repeating the stereotyped argument that Dokdo was the first victim of Imperial Japan`s invasion of Korea, rather than countering each point in Japan`s territorial claim with calm logic.

Tokyo seems to be feeling triumphant, ignoring Seoul`s protest. A case in point is Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga`s public rejection of Seoul`s protest against Tokyo`s distorted description of history in textbooks, saying that "Tokyo cannot accept it" on Tuesday.

Regarding the wartime sex slavery issue involving the Imperial Japanese Army, Japan criticizes South Korea`s oscillating position from not demanding any financial compensation for the victims in 1993 to calling on Japan to pay compensations. Such a counterargument has become more convincing in Washington.

"It is hard to understand why South Korea seems to be avoiding Japan, although Seoul is the victim. Seoul should not cut off dialogue channels but sit with Japan to make its claims," said one expert on the Seoul-Tokyo relations. "It is not appropriate for Seoul to ask Washington to be on its side over the history issues between South Korea and Japan. There are concerns that complicated South Korea-Japan relations would complicate the Seoul-Washington ties."

Some say that the South Korean government should give Japan some rooms for making concessions by generously embracing Tokyo, rather than being too conscious about the domestic anti-Japanese sentiment. A senior official at Japan`s foreign ministry said, "What Japan wants is that South Korea makes a fair judgment about Tokyo`s past efforts, including the creation of the Asian Women`s Fund. Based on this, both countries can go to the next level."