[EDITORIALS]Another visit, more hopesJapanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will be making his second trip to Korea in five months. His visit is meaningful for its goal of furthering friendly and cooperative ties between the heads of the two nations, and to support a successful co-hosting of the World Cup, which is slightly more than two months away.
Mr. Koizumi also brings with him the possibility that the visit may signal a forward-looking improvement in the two countries' relationship based on the normalization that his first visit in October managed - with difficulty - to accomplish. But the relationship has failed to move beyond the shadow of the historical past, even after the joint declaration of "a new partnership for the 21st century" made in 1998. The vicious cycle of disappointing blunders by the Japanese followed by overreaction by the Koreans has continued.
Meeting with Korean reporters before his visit, Mr. Koizumi spoke of the need to build a friendly and cooperative tie and overcome the "temporary confrontations" of the past through more active human, economic and cultural exchanges. His personal effort in trying to improve the relationship should be recognized. He has held back a position on worshiping at the war memorial at Yasukuni and expressed deep personal interest in experiencing Korea's culture during his visit. And he has also commented on the historical ties between Korea and Japan. But if it is his understanding that the historic conflicts between the two countries were temporary incidents that could have happened anywhere, we find that notion regrettable and difficult to accept. He must not try to brush aside what was basically a relationship between an oppressor and an oppressed; it was fundamentally different from hostile relations Japan had with the United States and Britain in the past.
Resolution of conflict between the two will be made through a clear recognition of the past, not a mere exchange of personnel and goods. Based on awareness, a truly forward-looking relationship of cooperation will be realized. Moreover, both countries can coordinate their relations with North Korea under the framework of regional stability.