Japan quietly lifts ban on travel on Korean Air

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Japan quietly lifts ban on travel on Korean Air

Japan quietly lifted a boycott on its diplomats flying Korean Air Wednesday, just a month after its foreign minister announced it.

The boycott was instituted on July 14 after Korean Air conducted a test flight of a newly purchased A380 jumbo jet above Dokdo, the disputed islets between Korea and Japan.

“[The decision] was probably because the effectiveness [of the ban] was being questioned,” said a diplomatic official in Seoul yesterday.

The boycott was the first of a series of complaints by Japan over Dokdo, which it calls Takeshima. Dokdo is controlled by Korea, which has guards on the island around the clock.

The test flight was followed by an e-mail from the Japanese Foreign Ministry to Japanese diplomats instructing them to avoid using Korean Air for one month. Seoul expressed regret over the move and summoned an official from the Japanese embassy in Seoul to protest the ban.

Tokyo also refused to comply with a request made by Seoul to reverse the decision. The boycott began July 18.

Afterward, three right-wing lawmakers from Japan announced a plan to visit Ulleung Island, the closest island in Korea to Dokdo. They arrived in Seoul but were denied entry to Korea and cooled their heels at Incheon International Airport for over eight hours.

Korean government officials and analysts agree that the recent diplomatic skirmishes over Dokdo have marred bilateral relations, which were at a high during the early stages of President Lee Myung-bak’s administration.

Some point out a pattern over the past few years, with Korea-Japan relations warming during the early stages of a new presidency, only to deteriorate later in a president’s term.

During the Roh Moo-hyun administration, the late president announced a fresh start with Japan, which hit a wall when Japan announced a new national holiday for Dokdo in 2005.

Friendly relations with Japan during Kim Dae-jung’s presidency darkened after Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited the Yasukuni shrine for the country’s war-dead in 2001.

By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

일 외무성 ‘대한항공 보이콧’ 해제

독도 비행 트집 한 달 만에

일본 외무성이 전 직원에게 내린 대한항공(KAL) 이용 자제령을 연장하지 않고 한 달 만에 거둬들였다. 일본 정부 소식통은 18일 “일 외무성이 ‘17일로 대한항공 제재 조치가 예정대로 만료된다’는 회람을 직원들에게 돌렸다”고 전했다. 앞서 일 외무성은 6월 16일 대한항공 A380기의 독도 상공 시범비행에 대해 “영공을 침범했다”고 주장하며 외무성 직원들에게 지난달 18일부터 한 달간 KAL 이용을 자제하라는 지침을 내렸다. 외교통상부는 이와 관련해 당시 미즈코시 히데아키(水越英明) 주한 일본대사관 정무공사를 불러 “민간기업을 향한 사실상의 경제 제재”라고 강하게 항의했다.

 한편 9월 3일 서울에서 열리는 한·일의원연맹 정기총회에 연맹 회원으로 지난 1일 울릉도 방문을 강행하려 한 자민당 의원 2명이 참석하지 않는 것으로 확인됐다. 2명은 자위대 출신으로 당시 김포공항에 머물다 돌아간 사토 마사히사(佐藤正久·50) 참의원 의원과 중도에 방한을 포기한 히라사와 가쓰에이(平澤勝榮·65) 중의원 의원이다. 이들의 방한 계획이 잡혀 있지 않은 데 대해선 한·일 우호·친선을 위한 의원연맹의 취지 때문이 아니냐는 지적이 나온다.

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