Dokdo visitors get letter from home

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Dokdo visitors get letter from home

Tokyo sent an official warning to the three Japanese scholars who visited the Dokdo islets in the East Sea and declared them Korean territory, reprimanding them for actions unbecoming of Japanese citizens.

The letter, delivered by officials from the Consulate General of Japan in Busan, told the scholars not to replicate such actions, stating that their visit to Dokdo, called Takeshima by Japan, and acknowledging Korean sovereignty did not consider the position of the Japanese government.

The scholars are members of a volunteer group formed in Japan by historians, religious figures and activists in April known as “A Civic Group Protesting Takeshima.” They were invited to Korea by the Busan-based organization Dokdo School.

A group including the three Japanese scholars, Dokdo School members, and Chinese and Mongolian students visited the islets Thursday wearing T-shirts that said, “Dokdo is Korean territory.”

Upon their return to Busan on Friday night, two officials from the Japanese consulate delivered the letter. It told them to “reflect” on whether they had behaved appropriately as Japanese citizens.

Norio Kuboi, a former professor at Momoyama Gakuin University, told Yonhap News Agency in an interview yesterday that the Japanese consulate officials, along with handing him and the other scholars the letter, warned that they will be examined when they return to Japan to determine if their “entry purpose was violated.”

The other two were Yoshihiro Kuroda, former lecturer at the Kobe Shoin Women’s University in Osaka, and Shoko Ichinohe, chief priest at Unshoji temple in Goshogawara, Aomori.

They said the Japanese Consulate called their hotel Tuesday, prior to their Dokdo visit, asking them not to visit the islets. When they declined, they were told they would be observed.

The letter they received Friday stated, “Your visit to Takeshima goes against the [Japanese] government’s stance that holds it in territorial dispute,” calling the visit “regrettable” and suggesting that it not be replicated.

Kuboi told Kyodo News that there were Korean nationals living on the islets along with Korean guards deployed.

The scholar said that in his research collection, there are at least 50 maps showing Dokdo as Korean territory.

Tokyo has discouraged Japanese from visiting the islets, concerned that such visits would serve to legitimize Korea’s jurisdiction over them.

Since Korea began allowing tourists to visit Dokdo in 2005, more than 50 Japanese have visited the islets, though this was the first time Japanese visitors declared Dokdo to be Korean territory.

By Sarah Kim []
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