[EDITORIALS]A Japan-Korea summit neededPresident Roh Moo-hyun said, “It is not necessary to cancel Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visit to Seoul scheduled for the first half of this year.” Mr. Roh was speaking in response to Mr. Koizumi, who said recently, “I hope to have a summit meeting with President Roh in the near future.” When the summit meeting takes place, it will provide an occasion for alleviating the worsening conflict between the two countries.
There was a danger that the conflict between the two countries would worsen after Mr. Roh’s mention of a “diplomatic war.” In diplomacy, there can’t be a one-sided win or unconditional surrender. Diplomatic skill lies in solving conflicts by mutually saving face. If the head of a state makes a decisive remark, it can’t help a diplomatic solution. In that sense, Mr. Roh’s remarks were not appropriate.
Fortunately, Mr. Roh, who made the controversial remark, welcomes the summit meeting. So, there is room for diplomacy between the two countries. Once the two leaders meet, there are opportunities to resolve misunderstandings. It doesn’t mean, however, that the Dokdo issue should be an object of compromise. Apart from Dokdo, there are files of pending issues that need close consultation between the two countries. It means that bilateral relations in other areas shouln’t suffer because of the Dokdo issue.
In that sense, we urge the government to approach Korea-Japan diplomacy from two different levels. While having talks on pending issues like the Dokdo islands and Japanese textbooks separately, cooperation in other areas can be made through normal diplomatic channels. It is not wise to say, “When one thing is not done, the other one can’t be done, either.” We have to pursue pragmatic diplomacy. However, Japan shouldn’t misunderstand this. If Japan thinks that Korea can make a concession on Dokdo, it is a grave miscalculation. It must be Mr. Roh’s will that we respond to matters related to our territorial rights with determination, while pursuing cooperation on the North Korean nuclear problem and exchanges in the economic and cultural fields without interruption.
Mr. Roh said, “Koreans shouln’t react excessively, while it is necessary for the Japanese to renew their understanding so that they can understand the essence of the problem.” If the leaders of our two countries share a common understanding on this, we can find a solution to the conflict we are in now.