Despite outrage, they stand firm on trip to Ulleung

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Despite outrage, they stand firm on trip to Ulleung

Yoshitaka Shindo, the Japanese lawmaker who enraged many Koreans with a plan to visit Ulleung Island with regard to the sovereignty issue of Dokdo, told the JoongAng Ilbo on Tuesday that he is sticking to the plan despite growing concern not only in Korea, but in Japan.

The same day, Japanese sources told the JoongAng Ilbo that the conservative opposition Liberal Democratic Party expressed its reluctance to let Shindo go.

“[LDP] Secretary General Nobuteru Ishihara asked today my intention [to visit Ulleung], saying it appears virtually impossible to go given the threats over his safety and urges not to even by [Korean] President Lee Myung-bak,” Shindo said.

“But, I don’t think of it as the final decision of the party and has not received any official stance from the Japanese government [that the visit to Korea would be difficult] either.

“Therefore, at this point, there is no change in the plan to visit,” Shindo said.

Shindo declined to answer whether he would accept the party’s decision if one were made.

Shindo announced on July 15 that he would go to Ulleung from Aug. 1 to Aug. 4 with three other LDP lawmakers to protest Korea’s claim over Dokdo, apparently in protest of Korean Air’s test flight over Dokdo a month earlier.

Ulleung Island, 87 kilometers (54 miles) northwest of Dokdo, has a museum about Dokdo and is the closest Korean territory to the islets.

Katsuei Hirasawa, one of the three other lawmakers, told the JoongAng Ilbo on Tuesday that he would leave the decision about the visit up to Shindo. A secretary for Masahisa Sato said they will review whether the lawmaker has to follow a party decision and a secretary for Tomomi Inada said they haven’t received any decision from the party.

According to a source in Japan, leaders of the party delivered the intention to the lawmakers that day.

“The leadership of the party gathering at a representatives’ meeting held in the morning on July 27 reached the conclusion that it is not proper [for the four lawmakers] to visit Ulleung Island at this point,” the source said.

The Japanese Parliament makes it a rule for lawmakers to get approval from the party to which they belong if they want to go on a business trip overseas within a parliamentary session. The current Japanese parliamentary session will be open until Aug. 31.

The LDP is known to be concerned that the planned visit would tarnish its image among the Korean public.

The party has expressed opposition to the return of old Korean books, which Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan pledged last year as a token of Japan’s will to build future-oriented relationship with Korea. Japan colonized Korea between 1910 and 1945.


By Kim Hyun-ki, Ko Jung-ae [joe@joongang.co.kr]


한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

일본 신도·사토 의원 “막아도 울릉도 간다”

일본 자민당 지도부가 소속 의원 4명의 울릉도 방문을 제지하기로 당론을 정하면서 이 문제를 둘러싼 한·일 간 기류가 바뀌는 모양새다.

그러나 2명의 자민당 의원은 여전히 개별적으로 방문을 강행하겠다는 뜻을 굽히지 않고 있다. 정부는 이들이 방한을 강행할 경우 입국을 금지하는 방안을 적극 검토하고 있다.

 정부 당국자는 28일 “당초 울릉도 방문계획을 밝힌 의원 4명 가운데 2명이 계속 방문을 강행하겠다는 입장인 것으로 안다”면서 “마지막까지 외교적 노력을 기울이되, 입장을 철회하지 않을 경우 입국금지 조치를 취할 것”이라고 말했다. 외교통상부 조병제 대변인도 정례브리핑에서 “자민당의 조치는 한·일 관계에 관심이 있는 공당으로서 마땅한 조치”라며 “그럼에도 해당 의원들이 울릉도에 가겠다면 양국관계 발전에 도움이 되지 않는다는 기본 입장에서 필요한 조치를 취할 것”이라고 밝혔다.

 교도통신 등에 따르면 4명의 의원 가운데 울릉도 방문의원단장 격인 신도 요시타카(新藤義孝) 의원은 “계획 변경은 생각하지 않고 있다. 일본 정부로부터도 방한을 하지 말라는 얘기를 듣지 못했다”는 입장이다. 초선 참의원인 사토 마사히사(佐藤正久) 의원 역시 이미 참의원으로부터 해외출장 양해를 얻은 상태로, 혼자라도 방한할 뜻을 밝히고 있다.

 이와 관련, 정부 당국자는 “내각제 특성상 회기 중에 해외 출장을 가려면 당과 국회의 허가를 받아야 한다”며 “허가를 받기가 쉽지 않을 것으로 보여 방문을 철회할 가능성이 있다”고 말했다.

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