Noda lashes out at Korea, China on sovereignty
The territorial disputes in Northeast Asia escalated to a new emotional level yesterday as the Japanese prime minister held a special press conference to harangue Korea and China.
Yoshihiko Noda held a special press conference at 6 p.m. yesterday to address Japan’s position on the ongoing diplomatic tussles with its two neighbors. The media session came as Seoul and Beijing celebrated the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
“It is extremely regretful that a series of incidents took place over Japan’s sovereignty,” Noda said at the press conference. “As the prime minister, I will try to resolve the issues with a dignified, cool-headed, calm and unswerving resolve.”
Reiterating Japan’s claim that Dokdo is its territory by calling the islets by the Japanese name Takeshima, Noda reiterated that he wants to take the matter to the International Court of Justice. Seoul has already rejected the idea, stressing that Dokdo is undeniably Korea’s sovereign territory and there is no reason to even acknowledge a dispute over it.
After Japan renewed its claims over Dokdo earlier this month, Lee visited Korea’s easternmost islets on Aug. 17 in a symbolic trip that no other president has made. Tension escalated rapidly after Japan lodged complaints over the trip.
Japan’s House of Representatives, the lower house of the Diet, also adopted a resolution yesterday to protest Lee’s Dokdo visit and his demand for an apology from the Japanese emperor over the country’s colonial past.
Jointly submitted by the Democratic, Liberal Democratic and Your parties, the resolution was supported by other minority parties, but the Communist Party and Social Democratic Party disapproved of it.
“The resolution is sensational and provocative, so it is not something to be adopted by the legislature,” said Yasumasa Shigeno, secretary general of the Social Democratic Party. “No good conclusion will come out of having an emotional fight.”
It was the first time in nearly six decades that Japanese lawmakers adopted a resolution on Dokdo. The first was after then-Korean President Syngman Rhee established a maritime boundary line in 1952 and included Dokdo in Korea’s territory.
Earlier yesterday, Noda also called Lee’s trip “an illegal landing,” as he spoke before the budget committee of the House of Councillors, the upper house of Japan’s Diet.
Noda also expressed regret that Seoul has sent back his letter to claim Dokdo. A Korean diplomat in Tokyo, Kim Gi-hong, tried to enter the Japanese Foreign Ministry on Thursday to return the letter, but his entry was blocked. Afterward, Seoul sent the letter through registered mail, and Tokyo said yesterday it was received.
Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said yesterday Tokyo will summon the Korean ambassador to Japan to complain about the return of the letter, but won’t make another attempt to send it.
Seoul, then, lodged a formal protest yesterday over Gemba’s earlier remarks on Dokdo. Seoul’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade summoned a Japanese diplomat and handed over a letter to protest Gemba’s describing Korea’s control over Dokdo an “illegal occupation.”
In another sign of protest, Japan hinted at an economic reprisal against Korea over the diplomatic row. Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi hinted yesterday that a planned purchase of Korean government bonds could be suspended.
“We haven’t made a decision as yet on whether we will actually buy government bonds,” Azumi said. “I want to watch the situation for a while.”
He also reiterated that Tokyo might not extend a currency swap deal with Seoul after it expires in October.
The Blue House kept cool about Japan’s emotional moves.
“Dokdo are tangible islets of Korea in the East Sea,” said a Blue House official. “And Takeshima is Japan’s mirage floating in a sea of delusion. We don’t care what Japan does with it.”
Amidst frustrations in the region over Japan’s territorial provocations, Korea and China yesterday celebrated the 20th anniversary of the opening of diplomatic relations. Leaders of Korea and China exchanged congratulatory letters, the Blue House said yesterday, and released excerpts.
“Since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1992, they have achieved a rare friendship and cooperative ties within the short period of 20 years,” President Lee Myung-bak wrote in a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao,
“It is particularly meaningful that bilateral relations are now entering the stage of a new leap since the two countries elevated their ties to a strategic cooperative partnership in 2008.”
After praising the notable growth in bilateral exchanges and cooperation in foreign and security affairs, Lee also stressed that a new horizon will open when the two countries sign a bilateral free trade agreement. According to the Blue House, Hu also praised the joint efforts of the two countries to develop their relationship since 1992.
“The two countries have a wide range of mutual interests in deepening their cooperation and developing regional and global peace,” Hu said in the letter, according to the Blue House. “China wants to expand and strengthen exchanges and cooperation with Korea in order to bolster the strategic partnership and open a new chapter in the two countries’ friendship.”
By Ser Myo-ja [firstname.lastname@example.org ]
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