Korea eyes renovating heliport on Dokdo islets

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Korea eyes renovating heliport on Dokdo islets

South Korea plans to begin full-scale work to renovate a heliport on Dokdo if Japan lays renewed claim to the rocky islets in the East Sea in its new school textbooks, officials said yesterday.

The planned renovation of the outdated, 20-square-meter heliport is among a set of countermeasures that are being considered if Tokyo presses ahead with the endorsement this week of middle school textbooks that clearly describe Dokdo as Japan’s territory, the officials added. Tokyo’s announcement is expected midweek.

Japan’s claim to Dokdo, the waters around which are rich in fish and natural resources, is a long-standing source of diplomatic spats between the neighboring nations despite their growing economic and cultural exchanges.

South Korea maintains a Coast Guard unit on Dokdo as a show of its control of the otherwise uninhabited islets. Some South Koreans also make day trips there.

“The government has called for the Japanese government to handle the issue prudently through various channels so that it does not have negative effects on South Korea-Japan relations,” a senior South Korean government official said on the condition of anonymity.

“Nonetheless, if the Japanese side pushes ahead with the description of its sovereignty over Dokdo, we will take stern countermeasures which will include the renovation work on the Dokdo heliport,” he added.

The heliport was constructed in 1981 for the use of police choppers. South Korea has already earmarked 900 million won ($800,000) for the renovation work.

The official made clear that Seoul will separate the issues of Dokdo and its help with Japan’s recovery from earthquake and tsunami damages.

South Korea dispatched a search-and-rescue team to Japan shortly after it was battered by natural disasters on March 11. The South Korean government has promised maximum support for Japan.

A growing number of South Koreans have expressed sympathy for Japan and have joined donation campaigns, putting behind them a long history of animosity towards Japn, which colonized Korea from 1910-45.

Officials expect the mood to help South Korea and Japan to improve political and emotional ties.


Yonhap

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정부가 일본의 교과서 문제에 대해 "단호히 대처할 것"이라는 입장을 재확인했다.

외교통상부 조병제 대변인은 지난 3월 24일 브리핑을 갖고 이같이 밝혀 최근 관심이 집중되고 있는 독도 영유권 관련 교과서 문제에 대한 입장을 전했다.

조병제 대변인은 "일본의 중학교 교과서 검정결과가 조만간 발표되는데 국내에서는 독도영유권 주장이 강화되지 않을까 우려하는 목소리가 크다. 이번 교과서 검정결과 발표에 대한 정부의 정확한 입장을 말해달라"는 질문에 우리정부의 입장을 설명했다.

조병제 대변인은 "우리정부는 일본의 중학교 교과서 검정결과 발표가 한일 관계에 부정적인 영향을 미치지 않도록 해야한다는 입장을 일본정부에 지속적으로 촉구해오고 있다"며 "지난 3월 19일 한일외교장관 회담에서도 김성환 외교통상부 장관이 마쯔모토 일본 외무대신에게 이런 우리측 입장을 특별히 강조했다"고 말했다.

이어 "우리 정부는 일본측의 독도에 대한 부당한 영유권 주장이 있거나 역사 왜곡이 있을 경우 이에 단호하게 대처해 나간다는 방침을 가지고 있다"고 재차 확인했다.

한편 일본은 지난 2008년 7월 일종의 가이드라인으로 볼 수 있는 중학교 학습지도요령 해설서를 펴냈다. 일본 민간출판사 대부분은 이를 토대로 독도 영유권 주장을 적시한 교과서를 만들어 검정을 신청한 것으로 알려졌다. 일본 정부는 이에 대해 검정결과를 조만간 발표한다.

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