[EDITORIALS]Dokdo amateur hour

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[EDITORIALS]Dokdo amateur hour

Since President Roh Moo-hyun’s announcement that he was abandoning his “quiet diplomacy over the Dokdo islets,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been on a war footing.
The ministry is planning to call in foreign ambassadors to Seoul to promote our sovereignty over Dokdo, to make Korean embassies abroad promote the intention of the president’s recent statement and to form a special task force for the issue.
These plans only prove the ministry’s amateurism. It has done nothing about this issue and now is busy carrying out delayed diplomacy for show which is unlikely to produce any effective results.
The Foreign Ministry did not even know for a long time that Japan had registered its names for the seabed area around the islets. When the ministry finally found out, it blamed the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and other government bodies, and so all of them have failed to respond in a systematic and organized way.
Although Japan’s exploration ships had in the past conducted surveys five times in the waters near the Dokdo islets, the South Korean government was unaware of those voyages.
Japan’s recent provocative action was predictable because the Korean government has carried out maritime surveys near the islets for the past three years as a preparation to register Korean names for the seabed area. But Korea’s foreign ministry was not prepared for Japan’s survey plans.
To defuse the stand-off between the two countries, we had to delay our naming plans. This was the result of the government’s lack of preparation.
Japan succeeded in making us put off our plans and making the Dokdo islets and the waters around them a disputed area. Korea has believed that its “effective control” over Dokdo was enough to claim the territory and was little-prepared to protect the claim.
The foreign ministry may feel unjustly accused, because the Blue House has led policymaking on Dokdo. But if the ministry does only what the Blue House tells it to, why do we need the ministry? Officials there must reflect on whether it tried to go along with the president’s ideas without considering how to translate them into professional and practical policies.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade should show some professionalism by sticking to the principle of examining our interests and by preparing for all manner of possible incidents in the future.
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