[EDITORIALS]Rocky Relations With JapanConfidence between Korea and Japan was further diminished Monday, when Tokyo officially notified the Korean government that it could not accept any other demands for revisions of controversial history textbooks. Because the Japanese government has rejected Seoul's demand for the revisions, relations between the two countries have deteriorated.
The Japanese government accepted two rather insignificant items out of 35 points. It argued that our demands could not be supported based on the scholastic circumstances or that its system does not allow revisions. In 1995, Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama issued a heart-felt statement of apology over Japan's past wrongdoings, and the two countries drafted the Joint Declaration on a New ROK-Japan Partnership for the 21st Century in 1998 to promote historical awareness. But, these efforts ended in empty talk.
In the era of globalization, Japan has chosen chauvinism, reversing the trend in its recent history of reconciliation and peace with its neighbors. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi seemed to have underscored his plan to visit the Yaskuni Shrine. As the Bush administration was being launched, Japan openly discussed reinterpretation and revision of its constitution. It has no obstacle in its way as it moves to rebuild its military. Japan prevented Korea from fishing in the waters near the southern Kuril Islands, standing on logic that begs belief. If the Japanese government plans to map domestic politics by taking advantage of the rightist movement, it will suffer big loss for small gain. Who will treat a country incapable of preparing a textbook properly as a responsible member of the global community?
If Korea postpones opening up its market to Japanese pop culture and exchanges between the two governments are fractured, it will be a result of Japan's deeds. If Japan's pursuit for permanent membership on the UN security council fails Japan will be responsible.
Yet, we should not rely on hard-line policy. The government and civic organizations should minimize use of the distorted textbook by appealing to the sensible in Japan. Will Japan stop covering its ears and listen to debates about its past and present and stop acting like a child?