[EDITORIALS]Goodwill costs of DokdoTension between Korea and Japan over Japan's intention to launch an illegal maritime exploration in Korea's exclusive economic zone near the Dokdo islets was fortunately alleviated on Saturday through diplomatic talks. But some Koreans are of the opinion that we need a more vigorous policy in protecting Korea’s sovereignty over the disputed Dokdo islets. They also want the government to move the starting point for the exclusive economic zone, currently the Ulleung islets, to the Dokdo islets located closer to Japan, and to annul the fisheries agreement between the two countries. This is because while the issue on the surface appears to be about the exclusive economic zone, it is ultimately about sovereignty over the Dokdo islets.
Speaking broadly, the Dokdo dispute is about history. Dokdo was the first Korean territory to be seized by the Japanese in their imperialist ambitions. Even now, Japan continues to deny Korea’s sovereignty. Ignoring their imperialist past in which they wreaked great havoc on their neighbors and the entire world, the Japanese are still insisting that Dokdo islets ― which Korea reclaimed after The World War II ― are theirs. Recently, certain history textbooks in Japan have been teaching students that their invasion of Dokdo was an effort to claim what was rightfully theirs in the first place.
Such an attempt to repeat its invasion of neighboring territories and destroy the spirit of friendship and cooperation in Northeast Asia, especially between Korea and Japan, also goes against the sentiments of the majority of Japanese who love peace.
We Koreans will not accept any form of compromise on Japan's attempts to prey on Dokdo, but we also do not want our friendship with Japan to suffer. Korea and Japan are crucial allies in the Northeast Asian region, sharing core values of democracy and a market economy. The two are inseparable geographically and historically. The economic, cultural and human ties between Korea and Japan are a completely different picture than the tension over Dokdo.
Should such tension reoccur and destroy the spirit of friendship and cooperation overnight, it would not only be a tragedy for Korea, Japan and Northeast Asia, but for the world order. Before Japan talks about its role in the world, it should restrain the attempts of politicians who have no respect for neighboring Asian countries and are seized by a distorted understanding of history. Otherwise, they will drown Korea’s friendship with Japan in the sea.