Summit talks are vitalThe government is apparently deliberating on whether to participate in the Korea-China-Japan summit talks expected to be held in Japan next month. The Japanese government has sent us an official document to fine-tune the final schedule, but the government has not been able to respond yet because of the problem of Dokdo.
To state the conclusion first, President Lee Myung-bak should not simply respond to public opinion. He should participate in the summit.
Until now, Korea, China and Japan have held summit talks within the Asean Summit Talks (Southeast Asia + Korea, Japan and China). But at the Singapore summit meeting last November, the three countries agreed to hold a separate meeting. Furthermore, it was Korea that had forged the agreement to hold regular summit meetings among the three countries.
Accordingly, the consensus agreed at the April and May summit meetings in Tokyo between Korea and Japan, and China and Japan, respectively, was that the first regular summit between the three countries would be held in September in Japan.
Our refusing to participate in the summit meeting because of Dokdo would be inappropriate, both logically and diplomatically.
The need for cooperation between Korea, China and Japan is ever more pressing. Opening a venue for talks between the three countries would complement the Korea-United States-Japan collaboration.
It would also give good leverage to secure Seoul’s position in the Northeast Asian power balance. Not only do we have security issues such as North Korea’s nuclear program to discuss, but cooperation in economics and environment among the three countries is imperative.
The diplomatic route would also help limit the relationship between China and Japan, which is rapidly turning into a mutually beneficial strategic relationship.
It will be politically burdensome for President Lee to go to Japan when the Japanese government has been so inconsiderate about the Dokdo issue.
Nonetheless, a leader has to do what a leader must do, and not to attend the summit would be narrow-minded.
In this regard, President Lee was right to separate the Dokdo problem from Korea-Japan relations in his Liberation Day address.
This is why the government should confirm its participation in the Korea-China-Japan summit talks.