New era for Korea, JapanSouth Korea and Japan agreed to open a new era, moving beyond the “history of the past” toward the “vision of the future.” The agreement was reached at the summit yesterday between President Lee Myung-bak and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda. To this end, the leaders agreed on pending issues such as resuming free trade negotiations and cooperation in energy diplomacy. It remains to be seen if the agreements will proceed smoothly.
At this summit, the leaders demonstrated a sense of friendship. It is a clear contrast from the rupture between the two countries under the Roh Moo-hyun and Junichiro Koizumi administrations due to their emotional confrontations. Lee and Fukuda have different views from the past administrations.
Lee has emphasized that the two nations should face the historical truth, but must build a future together without being fettered by the past.
Fukuda also stressed the importance of Japan’s ties with South Korea and China, and expressed his rejection of making controversial visits to Yasukuni Shrine.
We hope the summit will become an opportunity for South Korea and Japan to clear up the past.
Japan’s leadership holds the key to such a future.
Roh, in the early period of his presidency, also said the two nations should move forward, breaking with the past. His position was the same as Lee’s at the time.
However, with the Japanese ambassador to Korea’s territorial claim over Dokdo, the relationship between the two nations quickly froze. Despite the rhetoric calling the Korea-Japan relationship a “mature partnership,” it is not easy to have a sanguine outlook about their future.
South Korea and Japan share the principles of democracy and the market economy. Their bilateral trade amounts to $60 billion.
Every year, 5 million people visit each other. They are important to each other.
Falling into the “swamp of the past” never benefits both sides. Japan must refrain from provoking Koreans with its territorial claim over Dokdo and its leader’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine.
Instead, it must make efforts to become a partner of South Korea in the international community.
The South Korean government must also not politicize its relationship with Japan.
What we desire the most is the farsighted wisdom of the two countries’ leaders to nurture this rare opportunity for friendship.