Korea-Japan-U.S. Ties Should Not Be Disturbed

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Korea-Japan-U.S. Ties Should Not Be Disturbed

President Kim Dae-jung held consecutive talks with U.S. President Bill Clinton and with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori yesterday on Kim’s visit to Japan to attend the funeral of former prime minister of Japan, Keizo Obuchi. Even though the talks were brief, they were a timely confirmation of Korea’s unchanging coalition with the U.S. and Japanese leaders with only four days before the start of the inter-Korean summit and with rumors of shaky ties between the U.S. and Korea.

Though harmony between South and North Korea is essential in resolving issues on the Korean peninsula, a firm coalition with allies, the U.S. and Japan in particular, is the foundation for solving the problems that exist between South and North Korea at this time.

Following the announcement of the South-North summit in April, countries that have an interest in Korea are calculating their gains and losses based on their respective forecasts of the inter-Korean summit. Through it all, the U.S. and Japan, at the core of South Korean diplomatic policies, have exhibited increasing concerns regarding the Korean government.

Some are questioning the purpose of U.S. State Department Councilor Wendy Sherman’s visit to Korea last month. Others are saying that the Korean government is “neglected the importance of the U.S.” in recent diplomatic appointments, particularly in its choice of ambassadors to China and the U.S..

Japan openly expressed its dissatisfaction through the press,“South Korea did not even mention Japanese Prime Minister Mori’s trip to Seoul on May 19, the day when reports of North Korean National Defense Committee Chairman Kim Jong-il’s visit to China were released on the news.”

These ominous indicators are not suitable for the inter-Korean summit or for the progress of diplomacy in the future.

Certainly the government insists that 'there is no problem in our coalition with Japan and the U.S.,' and further blames the foreign media and press that only consider benefits to their own countries.

However, it is definitely possible that Japan and the U.S. hold different perspectives and expectations toward the inter-Korean summit. The focus of current issues is the diplomatic power of South Korea to mediate and adjust those differences. It is not a matter to deny or blame without reserve. The condition “after the summit” is problematic if the summit produces misgivings and feelings of alienation from the countries who have traditionally been allies. It is an almost inevitable fact that the U.S. and Japan will provide cooperative support immediately after the summit in order to provide full-scale economic aid to North Korea.

It is our understanding that a successful outcome cannot be achieved if any of the national or international issues are neglected at this summit. It is important to suggest the problems related to weapons of mass-destruction, which have been proposed by the U.S., at the summit. Moreover, it is also vital to lead the direction of the talks smoothly to catalyze dialogue between North Korea and Japan to establish diplomatic relations.

The independence to resolve inter-Korean issues between South and North Korea should become the driving force to resolve problems, however it does not mean that we should ignore the surrounding conditions in the international community. Considering the international aspects of the issues on the Korean peninsula, we must be cautious not to shift our diplomatic axis by simply concentrating on short-term results.

by Kim Jung-hwa

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