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Japan and South Korea are too closely connected, and have far too much in common, to quarrel over the Takeshima/Dokdo islets. Simply put, the risks of dragging the conflict out are too great. There are many possible solutions to the problem.

One would be to agree on equal ownership and management of the islets. They could be renamed “The Peace Islands” or something like this. Instead of being a flash point for conflict and nationalistic sentiments, the islets could be a focal point for peace and understanding between the two countries.

Rather than serving as a catalyst for heated long-distance debates over history, the place could host congenial face-to-face meetings between politicians, historians and others of the two countries on neutral territory. Perhaps some real headway could be made on resolving the issues that continue to cause friction. Groups of young people from the two countries could meet on the islands to learn to better understand one another and encourage feelings of friendship. The group of islets could be a symbol of unity.

In 2001 Lee Su Hyon, a Korean student in Tokyo, died while trying to rescue a Japanese man who had fallen onto the train tracks at Shin-Okubo station. This inspired the joint Japanese/Korean production of a film known as “26 Years Diary.”

To prolong the disagreement over the tiny islet group by taking a hardline position and stirring up feelings of nationalism is not only to miss an excellent opportunity for reconciliation, it is also to disgrace the memory of Lee and his ultimate altruistic act.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

donald wood

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