Seoul slams Tokyo over Dokdo claim

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Seoul slams Tokyo over Dokdo claim

Korea called in a senior Japanese Embassy official in Seoul on Tuesday to lodge a complaint about Tokyo’s latest diplomatic paper repeating territorial claims to the South’s easternmost islets of Dokdo and blaming Seoul for frayed relations between the two countries.

The Foreign Ministry lodged a formal protest with Koichi Mizushima, a diplomatic minister at Japan’s embassy, in the afternoon regarding the 2019 Diplomatic Bluebook, in which Tokyo blames Seoul for strained bilateral ties in the wake of a series of events that happened over past months.

In this year’s annual diplomatic paper, Tokyo has added a section about Seoul’s decision to dissolve a Tokyo-funded foundation set up to support Korean wartime sexual slavery victims and a military spat triggered by a low-altitude flyby by a Japanese maritime aircraft. The paper stated that “such negative moves” by South Korea have put bilateral relations “in a very difficult situation.”

Seoul later slammed Tokyo for renewing the territorial claims and demanded they be promptly retracted.

“The government of Japan must realize that renewing the territorial claims will do nothing to affect our sovereignty, and our government will firmly deal with any provocative move by Japan regarding Dokdo,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim In-chul said in a briefing.

The paper increased the length of its content on the long-running issue of Japan’s enslavement of Korean women during World War II, with an emphasis on its claim that the issue was settled in a final and irreversible manner under a 2015 agreement between the two countries. The agreement has been deeply unpopular in Korea amid criticism that the government of then-President Park Geun-hye agreed, without approval from the victims, that Korea would never raise the issue again.

The government of President Moon Jae-in decided last year to dissolve the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation set up with funds contributed by Japan under the agreement.

The Japanese diplomatic paper also changed “Korean forced labor victims” to “former laborers from the Korean Peninsula.”

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