[EDITORIALS]Another surprise attackJapanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi paid homage on Sunday at the Yasukuni Shrine, a shrine in Tokyo dedicated to Japanese war dead; the surprise visit shocked and displeased Japan's neighboring countries in Asia, Korea and China in particular.
When Mr. Koizumi visited Seoul last month for the second time, he withheld comment about whether he would visit the shrine on Aug. 15, the date of Japan's surrender. As if to sneer at the Korean people, he visited the shrine on Sunday in a manner reminiscent of the surprise attatck on Pearl Harbor at daybreak on a Sunday more than half a century ago. "I chose the date that would not create unrest and caution inside and outside the country," Mr. Koizumi said. "The visit will not be likely to cause any impact because preparation for the World Cup and Japan-Korea and Japan-China relations are stable." Such excuses clearly indicate Mr. Koizumi's lack of understanding of the situation and his disrespect toward his neighbors.
After the visit stirred a diplomatic reaction, Mr. Koizumi said his visit was to pay "personal" homage. It is, however, easy to see that he chose to pay the visit Sunday based on detestably careful planning. He must have believed that Korea could do nothing in response since the opening of the World Cup is only 40 days away. Some persons speculated that Seoul's mild reaction to Tokyo's approval of a controversial history textbook that claimed Tokdo islet was Japanese may have helped Mr. Koizumi make the bold decision to pay the visit to the shrine.
We do understand that Mr. Koizumi has domestic political reasons for the visit. But can someone who spits in his neighbors' faces for domestic reasons be called a leader? Japanese leaders praise their war criminals inside Japan while apologizing to the rest of the world. How can they be trusted in international society? Mr. Koizumi's two visits to Seoul had seemed to help calm the mood; the effect is now spoiled. Seoul should use stronger diplomatic measures, not just official protests, to stop the recurrent problem of disputes associated with Japanese leaders' visits to the shrine.