‘Japan Should Acknowledge Korea’s Dokdo Sovereignty’

By Michael Ha

Staff Reporter

A Japanese scholar reiterated Tuesday that it would be impossible for the Japanese to refute Korea’s demand that Japan withdraw its claim on the Dokdo islets.

Haruki Wada, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, made the remarks at an international conference on Dokdo in Seoul. Some 30 professors and academics from around the world working in fields ranging from international law and politics to East Asian history are making presentations at the two-day conference that opened Tuesday in Seoul.

Korea’s Northeast Asian History Foundation and Inha University are hosting the academic affair, titled “Dokdo: Historical Appraisal and International Justice.” Academics from several countries including Japan, the United States, Britain, China, the Netherlands, India and Nigeria are participating.

Participants include Shinichi Arai, co-chair at the Center for Research and Documentation on Japan’s War Responsibilities; Yoshibumi Wakamiya, a columnist for Japan’s Asahi Shimbun; Jon Van Dyke, a law professor at the University of Hawaii; and Kaiyan Kaikobad, a law professor at Brunel University in Britain.

Prof. Wada said the islet issue “should be resolved by 2010.” He said, “I wrote in 2005 that Japan must repent for its past colonial rule and offer an earnest apology. And I wrote that it would be impossible for us Japanese to refute Korea’s demand that Japan withdraw its claim on the islets.”

“I suggested that Japan should acknowledge Korea’s territorial sovereignty over the islets, as a sign of Japan’s repentance for its colonial rule,” he recalled. The professor said that in Japan, its Foreign Ministry officials’ policy stance has been to wait for changes in the political environment before seeking a solution and to delay managing the Dokdo controversy. He called that approach “unrealistic and anachronistic.”

“As time passes, Korea’s actual physical possession will continue. So Korea’s sovereignty claim will get stronger as time goes on. Japan’s territorial claim will only prompt strong reactions from Koreans and just make the situation worse. This will make it more difficult for the Korean and Japanese governments to cooperate.”

He said the year 2010 will mark the passing of 100 years since 1910, when Japan annexed Korea under the Joseon Kingdom. By 2010, he said, “with a courageous mutual effort, we should resolve this problem. Japan must acknowledge Korea’s territorial sovereignty over Dokdo as a sign of repentance for Japan’s past colonial rule.”

In return, he said, the Korean government, as a gesture of goodwill and cooperation, should allow stable fishing activities around waters off Dokdo for fishermen from Japan’s Shimane Prefecture.

Kim Yong-deok, president of the Northeast Asian History Foundation, said, “grievous memories of invasion, occupation and wars have been lingering for a long time and still hinder the two countries from building a new cooperative relationship for the 21st century between Korea and Japan.”

In addition, Kim said, “self-centered, conflicting views of history have gone beyond academic realms and entered into political and foreign policy agenda, thereby deteriorating peace-building in Northeast Asia.” He said the Dokdo controversy is the historical legacy of the two countries, which is not only the object of territorial disputes but also vestiges of Japanese imperialism, which must be eliminated. Further, Kim said, “It is worrying that Japan’s claim on Dokdo appears to be getting more aggressive due to the mention of Dokdo as its own territory in the Japanese education guidelines.”

michaelha@koreatimes.co.kr

[The Korea Times] | Original News @ HERE
Date : 2008/11/18

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