[EDITORIALS]Our Ambassador Comes Home

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[EDITORIALS]Our Ambassador Comes Home

On Monday Seoul decided to recall Choi Sang-yong, ambassador to Japan. On the surface, the objective is a "temporary return to the home country for consultations," but it goes without saying that it is Seoul's diplomatic response to the Japanese government's approval of the controversial history textbook. Recalling an ambassador sends a hard-line message, and it is a measure not taken lightly. The United States and China have not recalled their ambassadors, although they are in a serious standoff in the aftermath of the midair collision between a U.S. surveillance plane and a Chinese fighter jet.

We regret the Seoul-Tokyo relationship had to deteriorate to this point. But we understand Seoul took unavoidable action. Koreans have been furious over the Japanese government's approval of the textbook, which embellishes the Japanese invasion of Korea and downplays or overlooks Japanese atrocities. Voices criticizing the government's lukewarm response to Japan are rising in Korea. Seoul has few good choices, although it needs to adjust its response carefully in consideration of diplomacy.

It is possible that recalling Ambassador Choi may spark a diplomatic discord. If Tokyo recalls its ambassador from Seoul, the diplomatic conflict between the two nations could develop into an uncontrollable situation.

We urge Tokyo to put itself in Seoul's shoes and understand why Seoul was compelled to make such a difficult choice. Tokyo should refrain from lashing out eye-for-eye, but come up with a measure that shows that Japan cares. The Japanese government must keep it in mind that this is the only way to prevent the bilateral relationship from plunging into a catastrophe.

Before Seoul decided to recall its ambassador, Mr. Choi visited Japanese government authorities and delivered Seoul's protest. Seoul plans to draw international attention by raising the issue of the distorted textbook at the meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights being held in Geneva.

As we carefully watch Seoul's response, we hope that the recall of Ambassador Choi will provide a way to resolve the textbook issue without further harming relations with Tokyo.
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