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Seoul protests Dokdo labeling

Korea complains about Japan’s map for 2020 Tokyo Olympics

July 25,2019
Seoul lodged a complaint over Japan’s latest territorial claims over Dokdo, Korea’s easternmost islets in the East Sea, labeled as Takeshima on the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics official website.

A map for the Tokyo Olympics’ torch relay posted on its organizing committee’s website labeled Dokdo as Takeshima, Japan’s name for the islets. The Korean government maintains that there is no territorial dispute over the Dokdo islets which are under Korea’s administrative control and fall under the jurisdiction of Ulleung County in North Gyeongsang.

However, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a press conference Wednesday that Japan told Korea that the complaint was “totally unacceptable” because of its “stance on the sovereignty” of the islets.

Japan’s Sankei Shimbun on Tuesday reported that the Korean government earlier this month lodged a complaint with the Japanese Embassy in Seoul protesting the labeling of the Dokdo islets on a map used on the official website of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The map labels Dokdo as a part of Japan’s Shimane Prefecture.

The Korean government also protested that the “East Sea” was labeled as “Sea of Japan” on the map, according to the Sankei report. The Korean Foreign Ministry expressed “regret” over the labeling of the map and further relayed that Dokdo was excluded from the Korean Peninsula flag during the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics after Japan lodged a complaint.

The Korean Peninsula flag is often used by North and South Korean athletes when they march together for international sports events as a sign of unity, as was the case in the opening ceremony for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics in February of last year.

Japan protested the inclusion of the Dokdo islets on the flag portraying a sky blue united peninsula on a white backdrop, and Korea used a version without Dokdo for official events involving the International Olympic Committee.

Seoul and Tokyo have been engaged in a diplomatic spat following Japan’s export restrictions on Korea earlier this month, an apparent backlash to a wartime forced labor issue court ruling.

Tensions over the East Sea flared after a Russian aircraft violated Korea’s airspace near Dokdo on Tuesday, leading the Korean Air Force to fire hundreds of warning shots. In turn, Japan renewed its territorial claims on the same day, with Suga claiming that the Russian aircraft violated its territory and Tokyo lodging a protest with Seoul over the incident through diplomatic channels.

The Korean Foreign Ministry said through a statement Tuesday evening, “We cannot accept Japan’s claim as Dokdo is clearly our inherent territory historically, geographically and under international law.”

The Korean Foreign Minister in March protested against Japan for approving new elementary school textbooks with intensified claims to the Dokdo islets, including stronger statements and maps.

Koreans view such claims over Dokdo as a reminder of Japan’s imperialistic past and brutal colonial rule over the peninsula from 1910-45.

BY KIM SANG-JIN, SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]


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