Gov’t protests Dokdo rally in Tokyo

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Gov’t protests Dokdo rally in Tokyo

The Korean government yesterday protested Japan’s renewed claim to the Dokdo islets made at a rally outside the Japanese Diet a day earlier.

At a media briefing yesterday, Cho Byung-jae, a spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, expressed “deep regret” about the rally, mentioning in particular the participation of a large number of government officials and lawmakers.

Korea is “exercising perfect sovereignty rights to Dokdo,” Cho said, adding that Japan’s claim is “creating an unnecessary strain on development of bilateral relations.”

Around 800 Japanese attended the Wednesday rally, the first of its kind to be held in the heart of the capital city, claiming that Korea’s easternmost islets belong to Japan. Around 60 Japanese lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition parties attended the rally, along with Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi, Japan’s parliamentary senior vice-minister for foreign affairs, and Akihisa Nagashima, a senior director of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs.

The rally came days after Japan’s endorsement of the latest edition of an annual foreign policy paper that renewed the claim to Dokdo. Last month, Tokyo approved 21 school textbooks containing sovereignty claims to the islets.

Cho compared Tokyo’s incessant claim to Dokdo to the eternal, futile labors of Sisyphus.

“The two countries have made various efforts toward future-oriented bilateral relations, but as we move up that path, [Japan’s] historical distortion regarding Dokdo sends things back to the square one,” Cho said. “No matter what claim is made, Dokdo’s geographical location won’t change.”

Cho said Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan discussed the issue during a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba in China last weekend

Earlier yesterday, Cho Se-young, director of the Foreign Ministry’s Northeast Asian Affairs Bureau, summoned Hirotaka Matsuo, political counselor at the Japanese Embassy in Korea, to deliver Seoul’s protest over the rally.

The Tokyo rally was organized by Japan’s western Shimane Prefecture, which claims the islets are within its jurisdiction.

By Moon Gwang-lip []
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