[EDITORIALS]Appalling timingPresident Roh Moo-hyun leaves for a state visit to Japan on June 6. This will be the first meeting between the two countries’ post-war generation leaders and will be an opportunity to lay the foundation for a more forward-looking relationship between the two countries.
There will be consultations on the greatest threat to the security of the East Asia region, the North Korean nuclear problem, and how South Korea and Japan can cooperate to tackle the problem. The agenda also includes the expansion of economic cooperation and trade between South Korea and Japan and work toward a free trade agreement.
But we regret the scheduling of the visit. Mr. Roh will have a state dinner with the Japanese emperor on the first day of his visit. That is the Korean Memorial Day, and it troubles the Korean people that the president will be toasting the Japanese emperor on the day when Koreans will be remembering those who died for their country.
There is no question that the two countries should not dwell on the unfortunate past. But it was a mistake to set this schedule when a large number of people remember the atrocities of colonial Japan and its victims. Japan has failed to make a heartfelt apology to neighboring countries who suffered physical and emotional damage. The decision by Korea’s diplomats is appalling.
There appears to be a serious move in Japan to amend or discard the pacifist constitution that limits military action to defensive purposes only and prohibits all acts of war. There is growing criticism of Japan’s move to allow itself to take an aggressive posture overseas. Without signs of sincere regret, Japan cannot be trusted not to repeat its past mistakes. Mr. Roh’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi should deal not only with North Korea’s nuclear problem but also with Korea’s concern about Japan’s potential rearmament.
While we find the scheduling for the visit regrettable, we hope that the summit meeting will be a successful one so that our country’s concerns can be cleared.