日韓併合談話 未来志向の両国関係に弾みを

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 12, 2010)
Kan statement a fillip for Japan-S. Korea ties
日韓併合談話 未来志向の両国関係に弾みを(8月11日付・読売社説)

The government adopted a statement by the prime minister at a Cabinet meeting Tuesday, ahead of the Aug. 29 centenary of Japan's annexation of the Korean Peninsula.

In the statement, Prime Minister Naoto Kan expressed "deep remorse" and "heartfelt apology" for "the tremendous damage and suffering caused during the period of colonial rule." The statement was basically in line with one then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama made to Asian countries in 1995 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Kan's statement touched on the 1919 Samil independence movement on the peninsula, saying the Korean people's "ethnic pride was deeply scarred by the colonial rule which was imposed against their will"--an expression that went further than previous statements.

However, Kan made no mention of compensation, making clear the government's position that this issue has already been resolved remains unchanged. We think the government's stance is correct.


Looking ahead

Meanwhile, the statement stressed the need to build a future-oriented relationship between Japan and South Korea. This was an appropriate proposal.

Kan later telephoned South Korean President Lee Myung Bak to explain the details of the statement. Lee reportedly welcomed the statement, saying it would help strengthen bilateral cooperation.

An attached accord to the Japan-South Korea Basic Relations Treaty signed in 1965 stipulated that both governments would waive their right to demand compensation and that Japan would provide South Korea with loan assistance and grants-in-aid worth 500 million dollars in total.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku said at a press conference that Kan's statement was written on the premise that individual compensation claims and the right to demand compensation for Japan's colonial rule have been settled.

Last month, Sengoku stirred up the compensation issue when he said the government should draw up political principles by which to make decisions on the matter.

Members of ruling and opposition parties quickly jumped down Sengoku's throat. They argued it was inappropriate for the government's top spokesperson to make such a statement on the compensation issue, which was settled decades ago.

Sengoku should not have made these inconsiderate remarks, which could have opened the door to misunderstanding at home and abroad.


Govt must stand firm

Kan's statement could rekindle calls in South Korea for compensation for Koreans forced to work as so-called comfort women and laborers by the Imperial Japanese Army during the colonial period.

However, the Japanese government should firmly maintain its position that South Korea no longer has the right to demand compensation. We urge the South Korean side to react calmly.

Kan's statement also proposed that several precious documents brought from the Korean Peninsula to Japan during the period of Japanese rule be transferred back. The Japanese government has such documents as the Joseon Wangsil Uigwe (Royal Protocols of the Joseon Dynasty).

About 60,000 cultural properties were confirmed to have been brought to Japan from the Korean Peninsula during the period of colonial rule.

Japan has no obligation to transfer these artifacts. But the government apparently hopes handing over cultural properties sought by South Korea will help reconcile old wounds between the two nations.

The government should take Japan-South Korea relations to the next level, including in the fields of economy and culture as well as personnel exchanges. Kan's statement is a golden opportunity to make a fresh start.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 11, 2010)
(2010年8月11日01時14分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-08-12 05:52 | 英字新聞

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