Get real on Dokdo

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Get real on Dokdo

‘If there are ways to modify the fishery pact between Korea and Japan, a modification is the right way to go.” These are the words of Grand National Party Chairman Park Hee-tae.

“The pact was rushed ahead of then-President Kim Dae-jung’s visit to Japan,” he said. “The Dokdo islets were included in the middle zone and we were deprived of our sovereignty.”

Renegotiating the pact has been mentioned by some scholars and politicians in the past, but this time the ruling party leader brought it up.

According to his remark, it seems possible for the Lee Myung-bak administration to simply renegotiate the pact and mark out a fishing area with Dokdo as the starting point, but this isn’t the case.

If a renegotiation was realistic, we should cancel the pact right away. But if Korea cancels, the pact is only suspended and nothing will take its place.

Park criticized the pact saying, “Senior government officials including ruling party lawmakers led the negotiation in Japan in 1998.”

Maybe Park should lead the renegotiation. If he succeeds, he could become a national hero.

If Dokdo becomes Korea’s undisputed territory, maybe we could give something up in exchange, like our abundant fishing grounds for squid and trawling rights by pairs of Korean fishing boats.

However, there is another side of the coin. Japan is tenacious enough to include its claim over Dokdo in guidelines for middle school textbooks. Japan is not going to give up its claim over Dokdo so easily.

If it were, there would have been no Dokdo fiasco in the first place. Has the GNP thought about potential side effects from canceling the pact? What about Korea’s reputation?

If the pact is nullified, the East Sea will become a lawless water where Korea and Japan seize each other’s fishing boats. If the sovereignty over Dokdo becomes an international issue again, Korea could become entangled in Japan’s strategy.

A ruling party chairman should calmly deal with the Dokdo issue. He should not jump on the bandwagon in line with public sentiment and act carelessly, as if canceling the pact would strengthen our sovereignty over Dokdo.

A responsible political leader should not just follow what the media says but approach the issue rationally.

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