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2009年8月20日 (木)

金大中氏死去 問われ続ける太陽政策の功罪

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Aug. 20, 2009)
'Sunshine policy' weighs on Kim Dae Jung legacy
金大中氏死去 問われ続ける太陽政策の功罪(8月20日付・読売社説)

Kim Dae Jung, who recently died at the age of 85, was the first South Korean president to pay a visit to North Korea, during which he held a historic summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, and afterward was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

South Korea's modern history cannot be told without mentioning Kim Dae Jung. Throughout his life, he was a constant presence in the midst of the nation's political turbulence.

He became known the world over when he was abducted in Tokyo by South Korean intelligence agents and forcibly taken back to Seoul in 1973.

He then endured persistent suppression by the then South Korean administration, including imprisonment and house arrest. In 1980, he was sentenced to death on treason charges.

Without ever giving in, he continued to lead the democratic movement. Kim's courage was the driving force in ending that nation's military rule. Nobody can deny that achievement.

After he was elected president, at his fourth attempt, he led the nation to overcome an unprecedented economic crisis through drastic structural reforms. He also saw the country achieve remarkable breakthroughs in the area of information technology.

On the other hand, despite major steps forward, he was unable to settle some important issues he set out to tackle.


Triumphs and letdowns

In 1998, Kim, together with then Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, signed a Japan-South Korea joint declaration, expressing an intention to seek future-oriented development in bilateral relations by putting an end to past historic issues. Kim decided to lift restrictions on Japanese pop culture, which resulted in a dramatic increase in exchanges between Japan and South Korea.

But in the later years of his only term as president, the South Korean government requested Japan make further alterations to history textbooks used in middle schools, despite the fact that the books had already been screened once. This was apparently driven by strong nationalistic sentiments in South Korea. He thus failed to solve tensions over perceptions of history between the two countries.

In relations with North Korea, Kim's "sunshine policy" took a conciliatory approach, under which South Korea tried to persuade Kim Jong Il's regime to effect change through economic assistance. Such a shift in policy--from confrontation to coexistence--opened up new diplomatic avenues on the Korean Peninsula.

But given the current situation, which has seen North Korea step up its nuclear and missile programs significantly, Kim Dae Jung's legacy cannot avoid criticism that aid to North Korea only helped further its nuclear development.


Whither inter-Korea relations?

What changes will Kim Dae Jung's death bring to the situation on the Korean Peninsula? It likely will be a big blow to North Korea following the suicide of former South Korean President Roh Moon-hyun, who also was an advocate of the sunshine policy.

Following Kim Jong Il's reported expression of sympathy over Kim Dae Jung's death, North Korea reportedly intends to send a delegation to the funeral. Taking this opportunity, the two nations may look for ways to resume bilateral talks.

South Korean President Lee Myung Bak has pressed North Korea over the abandonment of its nuclear development program. He also has called on North Korea to begin bilateral talks for reducing conventional weapons. Lee's initiative is aimed at patching up holes in the sunshine policy, under which South Korea failed to take measures to ease military tensions with North Korea, despite the call for peaceful coexistence with Pyongyang.

If the sunshine policy is to be seen as a success, it will be when North Korea abandons its nuclear program and engages in dialogue with South Korea for establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 20, 2009)
(2009年8月20日01時04分  読売新聞)


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