"We of course cannot forget the past history but should not make it an obstacle for our future," Lee said. "We need not react irritably every time to Japanese lawmakers' remarks. Any politician in any country can express their personal ideas."I was glad to hear President Lee say that, but there are many in Korea who do not want to mend fences with Japan, but, instead, want to continue the fruitless bickering on Korea-Japan historical issues, even if such bickering continues to damage Korea's international prestige and continues to keep the wheels of Korea's economy spinning in the mud. Many of these people admire former Korean President Roh Moo-hyun because President Roh seemed to love to bicker. In fact, some of his admirers have created a video featuring President Roh's angry Dokdo speech, which was delievered as a special Presidential Message on Korean national TV on April 25, 2006, which was two years ago, today.
Below is the video and a translation of the speech:
The following is a translation of President Roh's April 25, 2006 Dokdo speech:
After reading the above speech, I hope people can agree that Korea's new president is much more rational and mature. Hopefully, President Lee's policy will triumph over the attempts of Korea's anti-Japanese bickerers to sour relations between Korea and Japan. Historians should bicker over history, not governments.
My fellow Koreans,
Dokdo is our land. It is not only part of our territory but also our own soil of historic significance where forty years of painful history is engraved vividly.
Dokdo is our territory that was first to be annexed to Japan in the course of its usurpation of the Korean Peninsula.
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 Russo-Japanese War, Japan sent its troops to Korea and occupied the Korean Peninsula. The Japanese forces staged a siege around Korean royal palaces, terrorized the royal office and the Government of Korea to force them into signing 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.
As part of this process, Japan forcefully merged Dokdo into its territory, installed an observation tower and electric cables, and utilized them in their war efforts. While continuing the military occupation of the Korean Peninsula, Japan deprived Korea of sovereignty and secured colonial control over the Peninsula.
Japan’s present claim to Dokdo is claiming a right to what it had once occupied during an imperialist war of aggression, and what is worse, it is claiming a right to a former colonial territory of bygone years. This is an act of negating the complete liberation and independence of Korea. Moreover, this is an act of 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 military sexual slavery. We cannot tolerate this for anything.
For Koreans, Dokdo is a symbol of the complete recovery of sovereignty. Along with homage by the Japanese leaders to the Yaskuni Shrine and Japanese history textbooks, Dokdo is a touchstone of Japan’s recognition of its past history as well as its determination for Korea-Japan relations of future and peace in East Asia.
As long as Japan continues to glorify its past wrongs and claim rights based on such history, friendly relations between Korea and Japan cannot be established properly.
As long as Japan is clinging on to these issues, we will be unable to trust any of Japan’s rhetoric concerning the future of Korea-Japan relations and peace in East Asia. No economic stake or cultural exchange will help break down this barrier.
Between Korea and Japan, the border to distinguish each nation’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is yet to be firmly established. This is due to Japan’s territorial claim to Dokto and Japan even insists upon drawing the EEZ line based on such a claim.
The issue of naming the underwater geological formations of the East Sea is related to that of EEZ. While the two nations are unable to form a consensus on the EEZ border, Japan has unjustly and preemptively designated a name for underwater geological formations within our own maritime zone and it is only our proper right to rectify this matter.
Thus, so long as Japan does not give up its unjust claims regarding the underwater geological formations of the East Sea, addressing the EEZ matter can brook no further delay. Consequently, the matter of Dokdo can no longer be dealt with quiet responses.
While there are, to be sure, certain concerns about playing into Japan's intent to turn Dokodo 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 history in our relationship 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 response. 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. For this is a matter where no compromise or surrender is possible, whatever the costs and sacrifices may be.
It is my hope that a 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, which jeopardize 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 repeatedly been made. We are asking for the cessation of actions of seeking to glorify or legitimize its unjust history, which offend Korea's sovereignty and the dignity of its people. We are not demanding any special treatment for Korea but actions keeping 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 having trust in reciprocal respect for each other's sovereignty are essential to this task.
Japan should stand tall by boldly divesting the dark chapter in its history of past 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.