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Asian editorial excerpts - AKIHITO'S NOBLE GESTURE.

TOKYO, Dec. 26 Kyodo

Selected editorial excerpts from the Asia-Pacific press:

AKIHITO'S NOBLE GESTURE (The Korea Herald, Seoul)

Japanese Emperor Akihito broke a long taboo when he said Saturday that he feels ''a certain kind of kinship with Korea'' due to Korean blood flowing in his family lineage. He noted that, quoting an eight-century history book, ''Shoku Nihongi'' (Sequel to the Chronicles of Japan), the mother of Emperor Kammu (reigned 781-806) was of the line of King Muryong of Korea's Paekche Dynasty. He also remarked that he appreciates the culture and technology brought to Japan from Korea that contributed greatly to Japan's subsequent development.

No doubt Akihito's remarks stunned many people on both sides of the strait because official Japanese history has persistently ignored these simple facts over the centuries. Little wonder Koreans welcomed his remarks as a first significant step that he initiated at the supreme crust of Japanese society toward settling the chronic conflict between the two nations over their different historical perceptions.

Given the centuries-old prohibition of questioning the holy origin of their imperial family among the Japanese, it is natural that Akihito's remarks touched off varied speculations regarding their implications among the Korean media and the public. Showing a stark contrast is the explicitly unnatural response from the Japanese. While reporting on the emperor's news conference given prior to his 68th birthday, where he responded to questions concerning Korea-Japan relations, most Japanese media killed the emperor's statement about his family history.

It would be unwise if the Koreans feel blindly exalted over Akihito's public statement about the contribution of their remote forebears to Japan's early nation building and cultural and industrial development. And it would be equally against the emperor's unspoken intention if the Japanese find his gesture to undermine their national pride. Both nations need a clearer and healthier understanding of their shared chapters of history, if they are not to repeat their past mistakes - one as a perpetually dangerous neighbor and the other as its poorly prepared victim.

(Dec. 26)
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Dec 31, 2001
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