| 25.04.2006 |
My fellow Koreans,
Dokdo is our land. It is not merely a piece of our land but one that carries historic significance as a clear testament to our forty years of affliction.
Dokdo was the first territory of Korea to be seized in the course of Japan's usurpation of the Korean Peninsula.It is a tract of land that was occupied by the Japanese for the purpose of prosecuting its war against Russia. The
Russo-Japanese War was a war of aggression that Imperial Japan initiated to secure control over the Korean Peninsula.
Under the pretext of carrying out the War, Japan sent its troops to Korea and occupied the Korean Peninsula. Japanese forces laid siege to Korean royal palaces, terrorized the royal court and the Government of Korea, thereby coercing them to sign the Korea-Japan Protocol, expropriated the land and people of Korea as it pleased, and established military facilities. Japan unilaterally proclaimed military rule over part of the Korean territory and eventually trampled on Korea's sovereignty by taking away our fiscal and diplomatic rights.
It was in the midst of this process that Japan forcefully merged Dokdo into its territory, installed an observation tower and electric cables, and utilized them in their war campaign. While continuing its military occupation of the Korean Peninsula, Japan deprived Korea of its sovereignty and secured colonial control over the Peninsula.
Japan's present claim to Dokdo is tantamount to maintaining a right to what it had once occupied during an imperialist war of aggression and, what is worse, to reasserting colonial territorial rights of bygone years. This is an act of negating the complete liberation and independence of Korea. Moreover, this amounts to contending the legitimacy of Japan's criminal history of waging wars of aggression and annihilation as well as forty years of exploitation, torture, imprisonment, forced labor, and even sexual slavery. This cannot be tolerated by any means.
For Koreans, Dokdo is a symbol of the complete recovery of sovereignty. Along with visits by Japanese leaders to the Yaskuni Shrine and Japanese history textbooks, Dokdo is a touchstone of the extent to which Japan recognizes its past history as well as of its commitment to the future of Korea-Japan relations and peace in East Asia.
As long as Japan continues to glorify it's past wrongs and claim rights based on such history, friendly relations between Korea and Japan cannot stand. So long as Japan clings to these issues, we will be unable to trust any of its rhetorical commitment to the future of Korea-Japan relations and peace in East Asia. No measure of economic stake or cultural exchange will help break down this barrier.
Boundaries between the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of Korea and Japan are yet to be firmly established. This is due to Japan's territorial claim to Dokdo and the insistence on basing its EEZ on Dokdo.
The issue of naming the underwater geological formations of the East Sea is intertwined with that of the EEZ. Even while the two nations are unable to reach a consensus on the EEZ boundary, Japan has unjustly and preemptively designated a name for underwater geological formations within our own maritime zone. Seeking to rectify the situation is our legitimate right.
Thus, so long as Japan does not give up its unjust claims regarding the underwater geological formations of the East Sea, addressing the EEZ becomes a matter that can brook no further delay. Consequently, the matter of Dokdo can no longer be dealt with through quiet responses.
While there are, to be sure, certain concerns about playing into Japan's intent to turn Dokdo into a disputed area, Dokdo for us is not merely a matter pertaining to territorial rights over tiny islets but is emblematic of bringing closure to an unjust chapter in our history with Japan and of the full consolidation of Korea's sovereignty. It is a matter that calls for a public and dignified response.
My fellow Koreans,
The government will revisit the entirety of our response with regard to the matter of Dokdo. Together with the distortion of Japanese history textbooks and visits to the Yasukuni shrine, the matter of Dokdo will be dealt with head on. It will be reviewed in the context of rectifying the historical record between Korea and Japan and historical awareness building, our history of self-reliance and independence, and the safeguarding of our sovereignty.
Physical provocations will be met with strong and firm responses. We will be incessant in our efforts to debunk the unjust actions of the Japanese Government before the world community and the Japanese people. We will continue to muster every measure of our national strength and diplomatic resources until the day when the Japanese Government remedies these wrongdoings.
We will also undertake all other necessary measures. The nature of this matter is such that no compromise or surrender is possible, whatever the costs and sacrifices may be.
It is my hope that the series of actions assumed by the Japanese Government, which offend Korea's history and detract from the dignity of the Korean people, are not grounded in the general perception of the Japanese people. For I believe the Japanese people are well aware of the truth that actions jeopardizing friendly relations between Korea and Japan as well as peace in East Asia are by no means righteous or in Japan's own interests. This is why we must refrain from emotional responses and keep our calm.
I would like to request earnestly the following of the people and leaders of Japan.
We are no longer demanding renewed apologies. We are simply calling for actions that would do justice to the apologies which have been made repeatedly. We are asking for the cessation of actions seeking to glorify or legitimize its unjust history, which affront Korea's sovereignty and the dignity of its people. We are not demanding any special treatment for Korea but actions that keep with the universal values and standards of the international community. We are asking for honesty and humility in the face of historical truth and the conscience of humanity.
It is when Japan comports itself in conformity with these standards towards its neighbors and the international community as well that it will finally stand as a nation of maturity that befits its economic size and as a nation that can assume a leading role in the international community.
My fellow Koreans,
Despite the painful history wrought by colonial rule, we have been continuously seeking to write a new history of good neighborly relations and amity with Japan. Under the shared aspirations of democracy and market economy, both countries have made strides towards the goals of mutual benefit, equality, peace and prosperity and have achieved vast developments in our relationship.
Both countries must now redouble our efforts to ensure a lasting commitment to these shared aspirations and goals. We must move forward beyond bilateral relations and contribute jointly to the peace and prosperity not only in Northeast Asia but also throughout the world. An honest recognition and settlement of history as well as trust in our mutual respect for each other's sovereignty is essential to this task.
Japan should stand tall by boldly divesting itself of the dark chapter in its history of imperialist aggressions. We are awaiting Japan's determination for peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia of the 21st century and, furthermore, peace in the world.