[EDITORIALS]Shrine Worship Two-Faced

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[EDITORIALS]Shrine Worship Two-Faced

Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi finally bowed his head to Yasukuni Shrine on Monday. We are deeply disappointed for we resent Mr. Koizumi's worshiping the symbol of Japan's militarism and ignoring irreparable wounds that Japanese war criminals inflicted upon countries suffered by the invasions of that country. Despite Mr. Koizumi's tactical avoidance of the anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II and the pacifist language he used toward neighboring countries, the essence of the matter - that the Japanese Prime Minister worshiped Yasukuni Shrine - remains unchanged.

Japan talks about atrocities and pain it caused during its colonial rule and invasion, and says it feels contrite and compassion for those who lost there lives by Japanese hands. But at the same time, it pledges peace and prosperity for Japan in front of spirits that include war criminals. Words fail us at the two faces of Japan. We once again are assured that trusting Japan will never happen.

Mr. Koizumi argues that he paid for the wreath he placed at the shrine and points out that he changed the date of the worship by two days. But the frivolity he used in addressing the issue will only make neighboring Asian countries and Japanese people believe that he is not a credible politician. It is doubtful whether Mr. Koizumi, who puts priority on political interests ahead of great causes, could help Japan become a leading country in the 21st century.

It is certain that Mr. Koizumi's visit to the shrine will aggravate relations between Korea and Japan. There already exist Japan's alleged glossing over of its history textbook and friction about Korean fishing boats operating in waters off the Kuril Islands.

With Mr. Koizumi's controversial visit we now worry whether Korea and Japan can maintain a partnership to be the joint hosts of the 2002 World Cup soccer tournament.

Mr. Koizumi must aware that Japan should be held accountable for deterioration of Korea-Japan relations because Japan chose its past over its future and chose mistrust over trust.

The Korean government and Korean people should take strong measures against the worship issue based on a firm understanding of the true nature of Japan. But at the same time, our government and our people need to be level-headed.

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