Japan closer to return of Joseon books to Korea

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Japan closer to return of Joseon books to Korea

The foreign affairs committee of Japan’s House of Representatives yesterday passed a Seoul-Tokyo treaty allowing the return of 1,205 Korean books in Japan, and the lower parliamentary chamber is expected to approve the treaty today.

The passage process will officially end with a vote by the House of Councilors, the upper chamber, but in Japan, a decision by the lower chamber overrules a decision by the upper chamber in regard to a treaty.

During the foreign affairs committee’s vote, lawmakers from Japan’s main opposition and conservative Liberal Democratic Party voted against the treaty, but they were outnumbered by members of the ruling Democratic Party and other opposition parties.

The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported yesterday that the treaty is expected to pass in the lower chamber and will then be sent to the upper chamber. The upper chamber’s vote is slated for May 13.

After the committee vote, Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto said he expects the return of the books “will help build a future-oriented Japan-Korea relationship and create momentum for accelerating cultural exchanges between the two countries.”

Prime Minister Naoto Kan promised the return of the Korean books in a statement last August as proof of Japan’s commitment to a better relationship with Korea.

The books he referred to were those taken by the Joseon Governor General’s Office during Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of Korea. The books have since been kept by Japan’s Imperial Household Agency in Tokyo.

In November last year, the two governments agreed on the return of 1,205 books including 167 volumes of the royal protocol called Uigwe.

The Kan cabinet tried to finalize the parliamentary approval last year, the 100th anniversary of Japan’s annexation of Korea, but the process was delayed due to opposition from the LDP.

The Asahi reported that LDP lawmakers were opposed to the return, saying Japanese books in Korea should also be returned to Japan, without elaborating on which books they are.

Diplomatic observers believe the 1,205 Korean books will be returned after President Lee Myung-bak’s visit to Tokyo at the end of next month for a trilateral summit between Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing.

By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]
조선왕실의궤 귀환 눈앞
일 의회 ‘도서협정’ 통과 … 내달 22일 돌아올 듯

조선왕실의궤를 포함, 일본 궁내청이 보관하고 있던 조선 왕실의 약탈도서 1205권을 반환하는 한·일 도서협정이 27일 일본 중의원 외무위원회에서 통과됐다. 제1야당인 자민당이 당론으로 반대했지만 민주당과 공명당·사민당 소속 의원이 찬성해 통과됐다.

 마쓰모토 다케아키(松本剛明) 외무상은 이날 중의원 외무위원회에서 “한국 도서의 인도가 미래지향적 일·한 관계 구축에 도움이 되고 양국 문화교류를 촉진하는 계기가 되기를 기대한다”고 말했다.

 29일 중의원 본회의에서 한·일 도서협정이 가결되면 사실상 비준이 종료된다. 다음 달 참의원 통과 절차가 남아있지만 조약의 경우 중의원 가결 우선 원칙이 적용되기 때문에 참의원에서 반대해도 협정은 발효된다.

이에 따라 다음 달 21~22일 도쿄에서 열리는 한·중·일 정상회의에 참석하는 이명박 대통령이 도서를 받아 들고 22일 귀국할 수 있을 것으로 보인다.
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