중앙데일리

Tokyo historian sees tough Japan-Korea times

Aug 14,2006
Relations between Korea and Japan are in for a further rough patch, according to Haruki Wada, a professor emeritus of history at the University of Tokyo.
He cited the upsurge in bilateral tensions and the suspension of bilateral dialogue, and predicted that Shinzo Abe, widely believed to be named Japan’s prime minister next month, would tighten the screws further on North Korea.
Mr. Wada, speaking to the Joong-Ang Ilbo on July 29 on Jeju, said Mr. Abe has disagreed with Junichiro Koizumi’s relatively mild policies toward North Korea from the beginning. The liberal historian said, “Mr. Abe will become the next prime minister, riding the whirlwind of Japan’s stern reaction toward the North’s recent missile tests. Mr. Koizumi used restrained pressure on the North, but Mr. Abe will use all-out pressure. A prime minister normally compromises his position due to the political burden, but the North lifted that responsibility from him by firing the missiles.”
Mr. Wada also predicted that many Japanese politicians would continue to visit the controversial Yasukuni Shrine despite the recent disclosure of a 1988 memo that said Emperor Hirohito decided to stop visiting the war memorial because Class-A war criminals were buried there. The memo was published by a Japanese newspaper in July, creating a stir in Japanese politics and perhaps, Mr. Wada added, putting some pressure on the prime minister to avoid visits there himself.
Returning to current issues, Mr. Wada urged Seoul to lower the emotional level of its handling of the dispute over the Dokdo islets. Less heat and more rational statements of the Korean position were needed, he said. “Japan has not been interested in the Dokdo issue, and South Korea showed some fierce anger when Shimane Prefecture designated a Takeshima Day [the Japanese name for Dokdo]. Japan was shocked, but Koreans were lacking in efforts to give a rational explanation of what Dokdo means to them,” he said.
“South Korea should work to explain confidently what the political situation was when the islets become Japanese territory in 1905. Explanations should be provided through civilian dialogue, through legislative exchanges, in schools and between fishermen of the two countries.”


by Kim Young-hie, Ser Myo-ja


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