[EDITORIALS]Keep 'People Channels' OpenAngry waves of criticism of Japan, which rejected demands to revise controversial history textbooks, surged through the entire nation. Local governments lined up to discontinue exchanges with their Japanese counterparts. Movements to break off relations with Japan sprang up, including in the educational, cultural and religious communities.
Cultural, sports and student exchanges have been stopped. Some schools are breaking off sister relationships with Japanese schools. One school even said it would remove a tree presented by its Japanese sister school.
Because of the hostile atmosphere, Japanese students and travelers are canceling tour reservations to Korea. There are serious concerns that Korean-Japanese relations will be frozen not only at the official level but also at the level of ordinary people.
We believe that civilian exchanges should continue despite the worsening government relations because of the history textbook crisis. The ordinary citizens of the two countries should meet each other and have as many chances as possible to communicate, in order to broaden understanding of each other and prevent more unfortunate incidents. People-to-people exchanges between the two countries have grown immensely, and are extremely important for the success of the Korea-Japan World Cup. It is fortunate that the Korean government decided to deal with the World Cup and textbook issues separately.
But the Ministry of Education and Human Resource says it will stop government-sponsored exchanges of teachers and students with Japan.
That seems unwise. Isn't it better to increase contacts and conversations between teachers and students as much as possible?
The textbook crisis will not be resolved in the near future. The government should work on the issue calmly and resolutely, and channels of exchanges and contacts on a private level should remain open. Other countries know the narrow-mindedness of Japan, sanitizing and distorting its history. We should not raise complaints blindly and uncritically as a way to show off. The best way to overcome Japan is by countering the crisis in a staunch and dignified manner.