[EDITORIALS]Japan must take the 1st stepCurrent relations between South Korea and Japan have reached a dangerous level. If the trend persists, it is feared that relations will be in the worst since the normalization of relations in 1965. It is time for the political and business communities and academia as well as the governments of both countries to make wise and discreet approaches.
If both sides give priority to emotion, all the problems between Korea and Japan, not only the Tokto issue, will be divulged again. It should be recognized that such a situation will not be in the interest of the people of either country, especially that of the young generation growing up.
It should also be recalled that the purpose of declaring this “the year of Korea-Japan friendship,” in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the normalization of ties, lies there. An influential Japanese newspaper, Asahi Shimbun, recently raised a question editorially: “What profit is there in urging [territorial rights over Tokto] now?” The paper asked the Shimane prefecture to refrain from adopting “Takeshima Day.”
In this sense, a sincere measure taken by Japan, the provider of the opening to the current conflict, should come first. The Japanese government must abandon a negative and passive attitude of passing the reponsibility to a local council. It is time for both the Japanese government and the Diet to exert positive and active efforts for a solution. If they don’t do so, they must understand that it will be difficult for the Korean government to calm public anger against Japan. The same applies to the history textbook issue. The official position of the Japanese government, that the government cannot intervene, lacks honesty. It must make its position clear. It should first abandon a dual attitude.
On the side of the Korean government, it was necessary to demand that Japan take concrete measures with sincerity, and waited to see its reaction before leaking measures like summoning the ambassador to Japan, or considering permitting tourist visits to Tokto. It is necessary for Korea to tell Japan, as the provider of the opening, to extend its hand first. We have to tell Japan that we don’t want a catastrophe and open our minds to our neighbors. While we recognize that our national sentiment is against Japan, we shouldn’t act according to such emotion. We need to make an approach based on reason more than at any other time.