日韓外相会談 対話継続で未来志向の関係を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 30, 2012)
Govt must continue dialogue with South Korea
日韓外相会談 対話継続で未来志向の関係を(9月29日付・読売社説)

Although discussions on territorial issues have ended without progress, it is significant that both sides reconfirmed the need to improve bilateral relations.

Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Kim Sung Hwan, meeting Thursday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly session in New York, agreed on the importance of trying to build "stable, future-oriented" relations between Japan and South Korea. The two sides also agreed to boost bilateral cooperation in such fields as the economy, human and cultural exchanges and security.

After South Korean President Lee Myung Bak made an unprecedented visit on Aug. 10 to Takeshima, the disputed islets in the Sea of Japan, a sequence of overly emotional actions taken by South Korea led to an angry round of finger-pointing between Tokyo and Seoul.

We are pleased to see the two countries at last beginning to move toward repairing bilateral ties from a broader point of view.

Bilateral discord is certain to benefit North Korea in connection with such problems as its nuclear weapons development programs and abductions of Japanese and South Korean nationals.


No progress on Takeshima

As the main ally of both Tokyo and Seoul, the United States has expressed concern over the Japan-South Korea discord and encouraged Tokyo and Seoul to improve their relations.

Stabilization of relations with South Korea is very important for Japan, which has become embroiled in a major row with China over the government purchase of three of the Senkaku Islands from a private Japanese citizen.

However, rapprochement between Japan and South Korea may be limited while South Korean President Lee is in office. For the moment, the Japanese government, by taking into account the inauguration of a new government in South Korea scheduled for February next year, must continue dialogue with Seoul at the foreign ministerial and other levels.

Concerning the islets of Takeshima, Gemba and Kim could do nothing in their talks but reiterate their countries' territorial arguments.

In his speech in the United Nations, Kim stated, "No country should take advantage of international legal procedures for political purposes."

There should be no problem at all, however, for any country to argue its case based on internationally accepted rules.

Because South Korea has rejected Japan's idea of jointly taking the dispute over the islets to the International Court of Justice, Japan must calmly prepare to unilaterally take the case to the U.N. court.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in his U.N. speech emphasized the importance of "the rule of law," declaring Japan's position of "upholding the principle of solving territorial disputes peacefully by complying with international law."

Noda also prodded all member nations of the world body to accept compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ.


China's high-handed diplomacy

Since 1958, Japan has recognized the authority of the ICJ, but a number of countries--including China and South Korea--do not accept the court's jurisdiction.

As long as South Korea argues its claim to Takeshima, known as Dokdo in South Korea, is legitimate, it should hold its head high and fight out the issue at the ICJ.

Japan's appeal to the international community about its position of resolving territorial conflicts based on international law will distinguish it from China, which has been staging one-sided, high-handed diplomacy on the issue of sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands.

In the meeting with Gemba, the South Korean foreign minister raised the issue of so-called comfort women, reportedly calling on Japan to take "measures at state level."

However, the issue between Japan and South Korea of wartime claims for compensation has been "fully and finally resolved" under the 1965 treaty for normalization of bilateral relations.

The government must steadfastly refrain from an easy compromise over this matter.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 29, 2012)
(2012年9月29日01時32分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2012-10-01 06:43 | 英字新聞

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