Chance to increase international exchanges and promote peace -- Akahata editorial, May 31 (excerpts)

The first soccer World Cup to be hosted jointly by two countries has great significance.

A deep scar still remains between Japan and South Korea over Japan's past war of aggression and colonization. We should seize the co-hosted World Cup as a great opportunity to strengthen mutual understanding and friendship.

The present problem is Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro, who has thrown a wet blanket over this call by visiting Yasukuni Shrine (dedicated to the war dead, including Class-A war criminals) and by expressing support for the rightist history textbook. Thus, the Japanese government has dared to bring new difficulties into Japan-ROK relations.

A sports meeting that goes beyond the boundaries of race and socio-economic systems, is a "peace event." In the real world, however, terrorism and war continue unabated. In Japan, the wartime legislation, which is directly linked to U.S. interventionist wars abroad, is a burning issue.

Reflecting calls for a peaceful world order, the world is wishing to see the World Cup achieve great success.

What is expected is that the opening of this historic event will be a kick-off for peace. (end)