Japan’s attitude is shamefulThe Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade turned down the formal proposal by its Japanese counterpart to settle the territorial dispute regarding the sovereignty of the Dokdo islets at the International Court of Justice. The government received the suggestion as an insult as the land is “indisputably ours and should not be subject for any dispute,” it said in a statement. Tokyo suggested taking separate claims over the islets, which sit on a seabed of rich fishing resources between the two countries, to the ICJ for the third time, after requests in 1954 and 1962.
Seoul flatly declined the last two offers made more than a half-century ago. A single country cannot take a territorial dispute to the court without the consent of the other party. Despite expected refusal from Seoul, Tokyo nevertheless formerly raised the issue in political protest of a recent visit to the islets by President Lee Myung-bak. Japan plans to unilaterally file a settlement suit at the international court and seek amendments in its bilateral treaty. Korea plans to oppose both moves.
Japan knows well that all of its tough talk is of no use. But it nevertheless is maintaining its rhetoric in hopes of benefiting from nationalistic fervor in votes for the unpopular ruling Democratic Party in the November parliamentary election. On the diplomatic front, Japan can claim that Korea is avoiding court in fear of losing.
But whatever and however desperately Japan tries, it cannot change the unequivocal fact that Dokdo is Korean territory in historical, geographical and international legal contexts.
Japan’s persistent claim over Dokdo only underscores that the country still bears an imperialistic and exploitative nature. While absorbing Korea’s diplomatic rights ahead of annexation in 1905, Japan discreetly incorporated Dokdo as part of its territory, claiming they are in the “Sea of Japan,” which Koreans call the East Sea.
Japan tried to steal our land and has persistently been claiming the territory as its own. The logic would be similar to justifying the colonization of Korea. The Japanese government may then be siding with the extreme right wing, which argues that the country’s military imperialism and colonialism was, in fact, just.
The attitude of Japan is shameful. Its desperate measures can only draw international scorn and loss of face. No country can be respected if it has no remorse for its past brutalities.
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