Outcry over Japan’s claim of Dokdo

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Outcry over Japan’s claim of Dokdo

South Korea condemned Japan’s renewed claim over the Dokdo islets yesterday, demanding an immediate withdrawal of the argument that hinders the two countries’ relations.

Earlier yesterday, the Japanese cabinet approved “Defense of Japan 2010,” reiterating its claim over Dokdo, a group of islets in the East Sea.

In its overview of security surrounding Japan, Japan’s Defense Ministry stated: “Japan confronts unresolved territorial disputes over the Northern Territories and Takeshima, both of which are integral parts of Japanese territory.”

Takeshima is the Japanese name for Dokdo.

Japan has used the same language about the islets every year since it was first included in the 2005 report under Junichiro Koizumi’s Liberty Democratic Party administration. Despite expectations that the two countries would face fewer diplomatic rows under the leadership of Prime Minister Naoto Kan of the Democratic Party, no change was seen in the latest report.

Kan apologized last month for the country’s forcible annexation of Korea 100 years ago, but made no mention about the territorial dispute.

“The government expresses deep concerns over Japan’s continuous unjust territorial claim over Dokdo in the 2010 Defense White Paper,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in a statement. “It does not help Korea-Japan relations and we demand immediate withdrawal of the position.”

The Foreign Ministry also made clear that Dokdo is, historically, Korea’s territory, geographically and under international laws.

“We will sternly respond to any attempt to violate our sovereignty over Dokdo,” the statement said.

In addition to the statement, the ministry summoned Hirotaka Matsuo, the Japanese Embassy’s political counselor, to file an official complaint.

The Ministry of National Defense also summoned Japanese Embassy military attache Hiroshi Kimurato protest Japan’s position.

Dokdo is approximately 90 kilometers (55 miles) east of Ulleung Island, while the closest Japanese territory, Oki Island in Shimane Prefecture, is more than 160 kilometers away.

As a symbol of its sovereignty, Korea has stationed members of the coast guard on the islets since 1954.

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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