Korea: Abe’s proposal ‘meaningless’

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Korea: Abe’s proposal ‘meaningless’

The Korean government denounced Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s remarks that Tokyo is planning on raising the Dokdo islets issue at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Abe said at the House of Councilors on Thursday that he is “reviewing and preparing” raising the Dokdo issue unilaterally at the ICJ and that he will consider several aspects and respond appropriately.?

The Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday said in a statement that there is no dispute to be settled in regard to the Dokdo islets - which Japan calls Takeshima - making Abe’s case review for the ICJ “a meaningless act.”

The ministry further expressed disappointment that the right-wing Abe administration is continuing a path of “self-righteousness and denial” amid ongoing territorial tensions over Korea’s easternmost islets, which was highlighted recently by Japan’s revision of textbook guidelines concerning Dokdo last month and Abe’s controversial visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in December.

In sharp words, the ministry further said that “if Prime Minister Abe and other leaders of the Japanese government continue these provocative acts habitually, Japan has to realize it will not be able to have any role of responsibility in the international community, let alone gain trust from neighboring countries.”

This is not the first time Tokyo proposed taking the case to the ICJ.

In August 2012, following President Lee Myung-bak’s unprecedented visit to the Dokdo islets in the East Sea, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda threatened to take the matter to the court. Seoul rejected the proposal.

Both nations must agree to take a contested case to the ICJ before the court can take action, making a unilateral proposal by Japan insufficient.

The Korean government’s position is that it sees no need to take the issue to the ICJ because Dokdo is historically, geographically and under international law its integral territory.

Japan claims that Korea unilaterally took over Dokdo and is illegally occupying the islets.

Last year, it pumped up activities to promote its claims internationally, including the release of YouTube video clips.

Korea, likewise, has responded with English- and Japanese-language video clips explaining its position through historical evidence. It also set up a Japanese-language Dokdo website recently.

Abe’s remarks come just days after Korea condemned Japan’s move to revise its middle and high school teaching manuals in an effort to stake its claim over Dokdo. In response, the Korean Foreign Ministry last Tuesday summoned Japanese Ambassador Koro Bessho, demanding that Japan retract the manuals.

Tension continues to increase over the territorial dispute, with Japan slated to celebrate its Takeshima Day later this month.

In 2005, the Shimane Prefecture designated Feb. 22 as Takeshima Day to strengthen Japan’s territorial claim over the Dokdo islets. Last year, a record number of Japanese lawmakers attended the celebration despite Seoul’s advance warning.

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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