[EDITORIALS]Why is Seoul Failing to ActIs this really the best the Korean government can do in demanding that Japan take responsibility for distorted middle school history textbooks? Why is the government just watching Japan authorize the textbooks that include contents that try to justify its past faults based on a self-centered interpretation of history? What is the government doing?
Calling for Japan's apology through a statement and receiving Japanese Ambassador to the office of South Korea's Foreign Minister were all the government has done so far. Although it seemed to plan some measures against Japan by opening various meetings on the issue, no definite plans have been derived. Instead, officials keep repeating that "there is no good idea" and that "people should wait patiently until something comes up." Why else would the Japanese media expect everything to settle down soon with time if the Korean government, in contrast with the Chinese government, was not looking so indifferent on the matter?
It is not that there is no understanding of the government's stand at all. Of course, it has to consider the diplomatic aspect of the matter in dealing with the issue. Considering public sentiments over historical sufferings, the government should, however, not give up the fight. It seemed to be concerned that taking action against Japan would hurt the relations between the two countries. But who started the problem? By approving the distorted textbooks, Japan has forsaken its historical cognition it manifested through "Murayama Statement" and the "Joint Declaration on a New ROK-Japan Partnership for the 21st Century."
In the statement commemorating the 50th anniversary of ending the World War II in 1995, then Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama said that the nation truly felt bad about the great suffering and sorrow of Asian countries during its colonization. The statement promised that "the Government of Japan will collate historical documents concerning the former wartime comfort women to ensure that this situation is never again repeated and to serve as a lesson of history."
Through the joint declaration in 1998 with President Kim Dae-jung, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi also promised firmly that his nation would do its best to implant an accurate historical perception for the younger generation in Japan. Upon this agreement, the two countries promised mutual cooperation and the importation of Japanese culture into Korea.
Nobutaka Machimura, the Education Minster, insists that the ministry has reviewed the history textbooks upon this historical understanding. However, at the same time he says that "the historical viewpoint shouldn't be evaluated."
What a contradiction and nonsense! If his words are true, how can Japan's Education Ministry approve the textbooks, which are distorted, fabricated, exaggerated or devoid of historical facts! Bringing up this point, the Korean government should demand a revision.
Some people say that the government is concerned about taking action because Japan's cooperation is needed for various policies on North Korea. If it is true, we cannot but doubt the government's discretion. Japan was first to break the spirit of the ROK-Japan joint declaration. If there is one person who needs to be furious about the matter, it should be President Kim Dae-jung. But, it is just not understandable why President Kim is staying quiet. Is it that he is not sorry for what has happened? It is now the time for him to take action.