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(EDITORIAL from The Korea Times on Jan. 20)

All News 07:10 January 20, 2017

Stop Dokdo statue plan

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida's recent remarks about his country's sovereignty over Dokdo are imprudent. It is regrettable that Japan's top diplomat made such provocative remarks amid a diplomatic row over the placement of statues remembering the suffering of the so-called wartime comfort women -- sex slaves for the Japanese army.

Kishida renewed his country's claim on Korea's easternmost islets, called Takeshima in Japan, during a press conference to protest a move by a local assembly to establish an additional "comfort women" statue on Dokdo. According to news reports, Kishida said that placing the statue on the island would be unacceptable, since "Takeshima is our country's inherent territory under international law."

Many Koreans have been concerned about Japan's hostile reaction toward the statues. Tokyo recalled two of its top diplomats in Korea after an additional statue was placed in Busan earlier this month resembling one that stands in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. Amid tense bilateral relations, we strongly urge Japan to stop making them worse by instigating a territorial row with Korea.

Also, Koreans should stay away from any confrontational action that will undermine bilateral ties. The Gyeonggi Provincial Council's push to erect a statue to pay tribute to the former wartime sex slaves will only bring negative repercussions to Korea-Japan relations.

There is no doubt that Dokdo is part of Korea, but placing a statue on the islets will only create more tension between the two countries.

It is unwise to instigate further diplomatic rows with Japan particularly during an absence of proper diplomatic leadership due to the presidential impeachment. The provincial council's intention is honorable, but it is also important to consider the diplomatic impact of putting such a controversial statue on Dokdo.

The Gyeonggi Provincial Council should reconsider the statue plan from the perspective of the national interest. It should also consider the viewpoint of North Gyeongsang Province Governor Kim Kwan-yong, who has pointed out that it is unrealistic to place a statue on Dokdo because the islets themselves are a natural monument.

The two countries should resolve their differences over the statues through diplomacy and communication while refraining from provoking each other.

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