United on Dokdo

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United on Dokdo

It is wrong to hit a person and then ask him to stay calm. It is wrong to patronize the person, saying that he hit him with an open hand instead of a closed fist, out of good will.

One feels enraged and helpless upon hearing the Japanese government’s and media’s outrageous claims that Japan owns the Dokdo Islets in the East Sea. Japan’s actions looks like those of a gang member who hits a passerby on the shoulder out of the blue and then through intimidation, tries to keep the person from responding.

The Japanese government mentioned the ownership of Dokdo in a new teaching handbook for social studies at junior high schools. The statement is in fact the same as claiming that the islets are Japan’s territory.

Japan plans to teach young students that Dokdo is a disputed area and Japan will take them over in the future, just as it should take back the Northern Islands, which are now controlled by Russia.

Dokdo, however, is Korea’s territory by international law and history, and Korea effectively controls the islets. The Japanese government has upset Koreans’ otherwise peaceful sentiment and now it asks Koreans to be calm in response. This is a serious provocation.

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda of Japan earlier called for a new era of future-oriented Korea-Japan relations, but now he has said that it is natural and necessary to have an understanding of Japan’s history and territory.

Nobutaka Machimura, the chief Japanese cabinet secretary, said, “We want to avoid a situation where Korea-Japan relations are influenced by each and every issue,” adding, “I hope both sides will calmly respond.”

He even mentioned that a direct statement that Dokdo is Japan’s territory was avoided in order not to ruin Korea-Japan relations, as if this was very thoughtful of Japan.

The Japanese media condemned the Korean government’s stern actions as a political move aimed at a domestic audience, mentioning President Lee Myung-bak’s low approval rating.

Japanese media outlets also reported that the Dokdo issue was addressed in the recent Korea-Japan summit meeting, even thought that is not true.

The Japanese government and media must be aware that the ownership of Dokdo is an issue of sovereignty, that it has nothing to do with any particular administration and that not one single Korean will offer concessions over the islets.
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