Korea bans entry of Japanese reps on Ulleung foray

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Korea bans entry of Japanese reps on Ulleung foray


Masatoshi Muto, Japan’s ambassador to Korea, yesterday. [YONHAP]

Seoul yesterday informed Tokyo that it would ban the entry of four Japanese lawmakers to Korea if they insist on a “provocative” plan to visit Ulleung Island next week to promote Japan’s claim of sovereignty over the Dokdo islets, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Kim Jae-shin, deputy foreign minister, summoned Japan’s Ambassador to Korea, Masatoshi Muto, to the foreign ministry headquarters yesterday afternoon to convey Seoul’s decision, the ministry said.

“Regarding the visit to Ulleung Island, we notified Japan that we will not allow the lawmakers entry to the country because it’s difficult to guarantee their safety, and out of consideration of the [visit’s] influence on bilateral relations,” a Seoul official told reporters regarding the Kim-Muto meeting.

Muto, encountering reporters waiting for him after a closed-door meeting with Kim, only said Tokyo will announce its official stance.

Yoshitaka Shindo, a lawmaker of the conservative opposition Liberal Democratic Party, announced July 15 that he would go to Ulleung Island from Aug. 1 to Aug. 4 with three other LDP lawmakers to protest Korea’s claim over Dokdo, Korea’s easternmost islets, apparently provoked by a Korean Air test flight over Dokdo a month earlier. Japan claims Dokdo as its own, calling it Takeshima.

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

Many Korean civic groups are voicing opposition to the visit, some warning of large-sized protests and possible physical sabotage to prevent the lawmakers from reaching Ulleung Island. Japanese media reported that the four lawmakers plan to fly to Korea on Monday, visit Ulleung Island Tuesday and return to Japan on Thursday.

The LDP had been known to be trying to persuade the four lawmakers to abandon the plan, but according to Japan’s Kyodo News Agency and the Sankei Shimbun yesterday, the LDP will allow them to visit Ulleung Island as individuals.

The Japanese government also requested Seoul, Tuesday, to secure the safety of lawmakers in Korea, according to an official of Seoul’s Foreign Ministry.

One Seoul official said the government will have to ban the Japanese lawmakers from passing immigration clearance at the airport if they arrive on Monday, but it has yet to give up diplomatic efforts.

“To our best knowledge, the LDP has yet to approve the visit,” said the official. “We conclude that the lawmakers have not applied for approval from the Japanese Parliament about the visit.”

The Japanese Parliament has a rule that lawmakers must get approval from both their party and the parliament if they want to go on an overseas business trip during a parliamentary session, the official said. Japan’s current parliamentary session will be open until Aug. 31.

Japan has intensified its sovereignty claim over Dokdo, approving 18 textbooks for middle school students in April that contain more assertive sovereignty claims than previously approved textbooks.

By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [연합]
법무부, 日자민당 의원 입국금지

외국 정치인으론 처음..日은 2009년 러 이어 또 망신
울릉도를 방문하겠다는 의사를 밝힌 일본 자민당 의원 4명에 대해 법무부가 입국을 금지했다.

법무부는 29일 '대한민국의 이익이나 공공의 안전을 해치는 행동을 할 염려가 있다고 인정할 만한 상당한 이유가 있는 사람'에 대해 법무부 장관이 입국을 금지할 수 있도록 한 출입국관리법 11조에 따라 해당 의원들의 입국을 금지했다고 밝혔다.

우리나라가 다른 나라 정치인의 입국을 금지한 것은 이번이 처음이다.

일본은 쿠릴 열도 분쟁과 관련해 지난 2009년에도 러시아 정부로부터 외무성 직원 등의 입국을 거절당한 바 있다.

법무부는 이들 의원이 입국을 강행하면 출입국관리법 11조를 적용해 공항 입국심사대에서 입국을 불허하고 일본으로 돌려보낼 방침이다.

또 이들이 입국장에서 성명을 발표하거나 기자회견을 여는 등 언론과 접촉을 시도할 개연성이 있을 것으로 보고 공항 내 보안구역에서의 취재를 금지키로 했다.

법무부 관계자는 "해당 의원들과 동행한 일본 언론의 취재는 막을 수 없지만 적어도 한국 내 일본 특파원이나 국내 언론과의 접촉을 하지 못하게 막겠다는 방침"이라고 말했다.

신도 요시타카, 사토 마사히사, 히라사와 가쓰에이, 이나다 도모미 등 자민당 내 영토에 관한 특명위원회 소속 극우성향 의원 4명은 지난 15일 한국의 독도 영유권 강화조치를 견제하고자 울릉도를 방문하겠다고 밝혔다.

이들은 다음 달 1일 오전 8시55분 하네다 공항에서 일본 국적기인 전일본공수(ANA) 항공편을 이용, 도쿄를 출발해 오전 11시20분 김포공항에 도착할 예정인 것으로 알려졌다.

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