[EDITORIALS]Japan should stop prefecture

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[EDITORIALS]Japan should stop prefecture

Japan’s Shimane prefectural government is expected to vote today on a bill that will establish “Takeshima Day.” It is hard to understand why Japan will continue on this provocative course knowing how it could adversely affect Korea-Japan relations.
In a year marking the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations and one that is also designated South Korea-Japan friendship year, the situation is making a majority of people from both sides ― who want to see strengthened ties ― feel perplexed and miserable.
The year is also special since it marks the 100th year since Japan forcefully made Korea its colony, a dark day for our country’s history. In such a historic year, for Japan to shake the emotions of Koreans and commit provocations equivalent to an act of invasion has left doubts to us whether Japan is really our friendly neighbor.
The Japanese government said that it had no right to interfere with the actions of a provincial government. Nevertheless, such logic is just a legal argument. The Japanese government cannot watch with folded arms as a local government, without the consultation of the central government, shakes diplomatic ties and stirs negative feelings in a neighboring country. It is the same as saying that the local province does not fall under the control of the central Japanese government.
Japan relies on an official notice of Feb. 22, 1905, in which the Tokto islets were declared as its territory. This time, Japan will pass the bill that establishes “Takeshima Day” first and argue again that the Tokto islets are Japanese territory on the basis of the bill.
Tokto is South Korean territory for three reasons: international law recognizes them, South Korea possesses them and we have historical precedent.
Japan is aware that unless it is willing to go to war, it cannot claim the Tokto islands as its territory. How can Japan take no action against a local government that takes action equivalent to declaring a war against Korea at a time when it is designated as Korea-Japan friendship year and when it commemorates the 40th anniversary of ties between the two countries?
A healthy relationship between the two countries is not only important for the stability of the East Asian region, but also for world peace. Who is going to benefit from the actions of the Shimane prefectural government? There is still time for the Japanese government to actively and wisely intervene in the matter.
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