Japan repeats Dokdo claim in diplomatic document

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Japan repeats Dokdo claim in diplomatic document

Seoul strongly protested Tokyo renewing its claim over Korea’s Dokdo islets yesterday, further straining bilateral relations between the two countries.

A 2013 diplomatic document endorsed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a cabinet meeting yesterday stated that “the Japanese government’s stance has been consistent regarding Takeshima that it is clearly Japan’s own territory both in the light of historical facts and according to the international law.” Takeshima is what Japan calls Dokdo.

The document included a report on former President Lee Myung-bak’s visit to Dokdo last August and how “the Japanese government lodged a strong complaint against Korea” in response.

Relations between the two neighbors soured following Lee’s landmark visit to Dokdo Aug. 10, the first made by a Korean president. Tokyo recalled its ambassador temporarily and dispatched an envoy to Seoul to protest the visit.

The document stated that Tokyo proposed to Seoul on Aug. 21 to take the issue to the International Court of Justice “for a peaceful solution to the dispute” but the Korean government declined.

It added that “the Japanese government has through diverse media spread awareness of the Takeshima issue.”

Korea’s official position is that there is no territorial dispute.

“Our government makes a strong protest against the Japanese government for its cabinet deciding on diplomatic documents on April 5 that lay unjustified claim over our inseparable territory Dokdo,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded yesterday. It urged Tokyo “to immediately withdraw such an unjustified claim.”

The ministry summoned Japan’s ambassador to Seoul to convey the message to Tokyo.

“The Japanese government needs the courage to look history squarely in the face and teach its citizens correct history to regain credibility with its neighbors including Korea,” added the ministry spokesman.

Japan has claimed Dokdo in its diplomatic papers since it began publishing the document in 1963.

Last week, Seoul expressed regret that the Japanese government approved 15 high school textbooks for next year that lay claim over Dokdo, including three with new language such as a description of Korea’s “unilateral occupation” of the islets.

By Sarah Kim [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]
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