[EDITORIALS]Go Ahead With Exchange ProgramsThe central government and local governments have trotted out measures to respond to Japan's refusal to correct history textbooks that critics claim are distorted, but the measures seem hasty and emotional. The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development, in particular, cancelled its exchange programs for college students and teachers, causing problems for those selected for the programs.
A few days ago, the ministry cancelled the visit of 60 Korean university students and teachers to Japan; that trip was scheduled for October and November. Sixty Japanese university students and teachers already visited Korea, from March to May, and the government has already paid 60 million won ($46,000) for the group's visit. In the end, we are the only losers.
The ministry said that if Japan ignores Korea's demands for more corrections, it will also cancel high school exchanges agreed upon by President Kim and then-Prime Minister Obuchi in 1998. Under the program, 570 Korean students and 300 Japanese students are to exchange visits every year until 2008. In April, 270 high school students were selected for the program's scheduled exchange in October.
Although the following advice applies to only a few Koreans, excessive expressions of hostility and ill-will toward Japanese living in Korea or Japanese companies here should be carefully thought out. Purposely ostracizing Japanese at schools or at the workplace or unilaterally ending business relationships with the Japanese is not an effective countermeasure. But the education committee of Tenri, Nara prefecture, said it would not adopt the distorted textbook as a result of strong efforts made by its sister city, Seosan, South Chungchong province. Three other local governments in the area also decided to join Tenri. We should not react emotionally to Japanese actions; grass-roots action to prevent schools from adopting the controversial textbook are more effective. To solve the conflict between Korea and Japan, it would be more effective in the long-term to maintain the student exchange programs while trying to resolve the dispute.