[EDITORIALS]This time, a national issueDuring the course of examining high school textbooks for use next year, Japan’s Education Ministry instructed publishers to clearly specify that the Takeshima Islets (known in Korea as Dokdo) are Japanese territory. In regard to sex slaves, the ministry also instructed publishers to change the wording. The expression, “Femalesforced to become comfort women by the Japanese military,” was ordered changed to “Females who had become comfort woman of the Japanese military,” which is a denial that there was any force involved in making the females military sex slaves.
These incidents are very different from previous ones in which some politicians made incorrect remarks or a Japanese prefectural government designated Feb. 22 as “Takeshima Day.” That’s because this time it’s not some politician, a provincial government or a right wing political group, but the Japanese government itself that is denying history and reality. Thus, the countermeasures taken by our government must be different. In regard to the Dokdo Islets issue, our government has said that it was only a provincial government that was making a fuss, so we do not need to overreact.
Domestic politics have played a big role in Japan’s diplomatic provocation. The diplomatically risky move was aimed to concentrate the right and get some votes in the process. It’s the same reason that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visits the controversial Yasukuni Shrine. Raising Dokdo is an extension of domestic politics. Nevertheless, we can’t just take this incident lying down when Japan’s government has purposefully put itself at the forefront of the Dokdo issue. Seoul must sternly warn Japan that if it continues on this path, it will be harder and harder to salvage bilateral ties.
There is one thing the Japanese government needs to learn: that Dokdo is Korean territory which we are ruling in effect, and if Japan wants to have these sort of relationship with neighboring countries, it can never become a leader of the international community.