[EDITORIALS]Seoul rises above Tokto fracasThe government called a National Security Council meeting yesterday and announced a new policy toward Japan, indicating a shift in South Korea’s Japan policy. Seoul said it will define South Korea-Japan relations according to universal values and common sense rather than on the basis of the special history between the two. The government made clear its intention to highlight Japan’s rights and wrongs in the international arena.
Until now, the two countries have been swept by bitter emotions when discussing right and wrong that is rooted in the special historical relationship of the two countries. By declaring that South Korea will approach Japan with universal human values, Seoul has made a clear foundation that conflicts with Tokyo are not because of the two countries’ peculiar past.
It is, therefore, natural that the government calls the recent series of historical and Tokto disputes “matters of grave concern that include Japan’s intention to justify its past colonial rule of the peninsula.” Because Japan has never truly apologized for and repented its past, the country is regressing.
We can emphasize to the international community that the recent incidents over Tokto are not just a territorial dispute, but were caused by Japan’s throwback to the colonial past. Seoul’s approach in handling this matter with universal values will certainly earn the support of the international community.
We agree with the government’s choice of such an inclusive and general approach. Seoul “will tell international society of our just and righteous causes with dignity,” and the position is appropriate. Under such a principle, the Tokto issue is not a matter that has to be handled quietly between the two countries as was done in the past. We anticipate that South Korea will engage in dignified diplomacy, saying “What is ours is ours.”
South Korea and Japan, in a long-term view, are important partners in maintaining peace in Northeast Asia. In East Asia, there are no other countries that share such close traits as liberal democracy, human rights and market economy. It is a misfortune not only for the two countries but also for Northeast Asia and the world to see that the two countries’ relations are driving toward catastrophe caused by some ultra-nationalists. Japan must recover the spirit of partnership with South Korea and restore the relationship between the two countries.