Japanese lawmakers come - then go
Three right-wing Japanese lawmakers who arrived in Korea yesterday in an apparent move to bolster Japan’s territorial claim over the Dokdo islets were denied entry and returned home after waiting for hours at a Seoul airport.
The Korean government refused their entry over their plan to visit Ulleung Island to counter Seoul’s tightened grip of nearby Dokdo.
The territorial dispute between the two neighbors could take a turn for the worse today with Japan scheduled vote on its annual defense white paper, which contains fresh claims over the rocky outcroppings.
Yoshitaka Shindo, Tomomi Inada and Masahisa Sato, all from the conservative opposition Liberal Democratic Party, were denied entry after landing at Gimpo International Airport at 11:10 a.m. on an All Nippon Airways flight.
The Ministry of Justice said it gave an ultimatum to the lawmakers at 6:50 p.m. to board an 8:10 p.m. flight back to Japan or be transferred to an airport facility that processes illegal immigrants. At that point, the lawmakers decided to leave, the ministry said.
Shindo, before he boarded the plane, told reporters, “I’ll be back.”
The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the Japanese lawmakers were advised to return but initially refused, officials said.
“The lawmakers attempted to clear customs but immigration officials escorted them to a waiting room for repatriation, explaining the government’s decision to ban their entry,” said a Seoul official.
The official said immigration officials told the lawmakers that their visit was apparently aimed at taking issue with Korea’s measures to strengthen its effective rule over Dokdo and thus ran counter to Korea’s national interests.
Seoul officials said the three Japanese lawmakers demanded more explanation about the entry ban.
“We are not terrorists, and we don’t understand on what grounds Korea is saying we are threatening the safety of the Korean border,” Shindo told reporters at the airport.
Article 11 of Korea’s Immigration Law permits entry bans if there are sufficient grounds to believe a foreigner has plans to hurt the interests of Korea or the safety of the Korean public.
On Sunday, the government denied the entry of a leading figure of a right-wing Japanese civic group on the same grounds after he landed at Incheon International Airport.
Shindo announced on July 15 that he would go to Ulleung, 87 kilometers (54 miles) northwest of Dokdo, with three other LDP lawmakers. Dokdo, Korea’s easternmost islets, is claimed by Japan, which calls them Takeshima.
Shindo, Inada and Sato - all members of the LDP’s special committee on territory - said they wanted to tour the Dokdo museum on Ulleung.
Their planned Ulleung visit was met with angry responses in Korea, with civic groups considering plans to foil their visit, leading Seoul to notify Japan that the safety of the lawmakers could not be guaranteed.
Yesterday, around 400 people from scores of Korean civic groups held rallies protesting the Japanese lawmakers’ visit at Gimpo, with some tearing the Japanese flag. Others held placards reading, “Come without your passport if it is your land as you claim.” There were no physical clashes, however, between the Japanese lawmakers and protestors.
Tokyo hit back yesterday with a protest about the entry ban via telephone at around 11:50 a.m. to Seoul’s Foreign Ministry, the ministry officials said.
Japan will vote today on its annual defense white paper.
According to the Foreign Ministry, the Japanese government plans to hold a cabinet meeting today to decide the contents of its annual defense white paper.
Since 2006, Japan’s white paper has claimed that the territorial dispute over Dokdo, along with its dispute with Russia over the Kuril Islands, remains unresolved. The proposed content of the 2011 paper is known to contain the same expression.
By Moon Gwang-lip [email@example.com]
한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]
일본 의원 3명 어제 입국금지 당해…김포공항 농성 9시간 만에 돌아가
울릉도 방문을 강행하려던 일본 자민당 의원 3명이 1일 오전 김포공항에 도착해 9시간10분간 버티다 돌아갔다. 정부는 당초 방침대로 이들의 입국을 금지했다.
신도 요시타카(新藤義孝)·이나다 도모미(稻田朋美)·사토 마사히사(佐藤正久) 의원은 이날 오전 8시55분쯤 도쿄 하네다공항발 전일본공수(ANA) 항공편에 탑승해 10시59분 김포공항에 도착했다. 이들은 도착 직후 임시 출입국 사무실로 인도돼 ‘대한민국의 이익이나 공공의 안전을 해칠 이유가 있는 경우 법무부 장관이 입국을 막을 수 있다’는 내용의 출입국관리법 제11조에 따라 입국 금지를 통보받았다. 신도 의원은 “다케시마(독도의 일본명)는 일본 영토”라며 “이유도 안 듣고 입국을 막는 것은 사생활 침해”라고 주장했다.
이들은 외교부의 공식 설명을 듣기 전에 떠날 수 없다고 버티다 “오후 7시까지 이날 중 출국 여부를 확정하라”는 법무부 통보를 받은 후 오후 8시10분 ANA편으로 일본으로 돌아갔다. 하네다공항으로 가는 마지막 비행기였다. 법무부 출입국관리사무소 석동현 외국인정책본부장은 “이들의 입국금지 조치는 아직 해제되지 않았다” 고 말했다.
More in Politics
Injunction gives Yoon his job back, at least temporarily
Prosecutors implore Choo to reconsider suspension
Blue House aide draws fire for football game amid virus restrictions
Tensions rise between prosecution, Ministry of Justice ahead of court review
Opposition jumps on idea of Assembly probe of Choo