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[EDITORIALS]Hold to principle on Dokdo

Apr 21,2006
A conflict between South Korea and Japan over the Dokdo islets has softened as the two countries agreed to solve the problem by talks. The conflict was fueled by Japan's plans to send two survey ships to Korea’s exclusive economic zone around the Dokdo Islets. Japan’s vice foreign minister, Shotaro Yachi arrived in Seoul yesterday and is having talks with Korean government officials of the foreign ministry.
It is a relief that the two nations have taken a step back and are trying to find a solution through negotiations. Still, the Korean government should not abandon its principle for the sake of resolving a conflict.
At the core of this conflict lies the issue of sovereignty of the Dokdo islets.
Japan claims that the direct cause for this trouble is the two countries’ different ideas about the names for the ocean bed area around the islets. However, everybody knows that beneath the surface there are other issues, like the exclusive economic zone in the disputed sea area and sovereignty of the Dokdo islets.
That is why we see Japan's plans for the sea survey as a provocative action to stir Korean sentiment that Japan has carefully planned, along with the repeated visits by its leaders to the Yasukuni Shrine and the fabrication of the contents of history textbooks. We Koreans take this sea survey project as a serious challenge to our sovereignty.
At the talks, Japan reportedly said that it would withdraw its plans for the sea survey should we drop our plans to register Korean names for the seabed area at a meeting of the International Hydrographic Organization scheduled for June in Germany.
As the Korean government admitted, we have been ill-prepared for this matter.
Japan already registered their names for undersea ridges and basins around the islets at the International Hydrographic Organization back in 1984 but we haven’t registered ours. We should register Korean names as soon as we can. It doesn’t make sense that we haven’t yet.
We can agree to delay our naming plans but we should never agree to withdraw them. We should keep our territory no matter how much Japan tries to make this area a disputed spot.
A head-on collision is no good for either Japan or Korea.
Although it is a good thing to resolve a conflict by diplomacy, we should never give up our principle ― that is, the Dokdo islets are our territory and we will never compromise with Japan over our due right.


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