Japanese embassy rejects Moon's present over Dokdo image
The Japanese Embassy in Seoul rejected President Moon Jae-in’s Lunar New Year gift after finding an image of islands which it said are suggestive of the Dokdo islets in the East Sea, which Japan claims are territorially its own, on the gift box, reported local media outlets in Tokyo on Saturday.
The gift box, which contained honey, traditional liquor and other local food products, was sent to all embassies ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, which falls on Feb. 1.
The front of the box has an illustration of a sun rising behind islands.
The Japanese Embassy, upon receiving the gift, deemed the illustration “suggestive of the disputed island of Takeshima,” and returned it to the Blue House on Friday, according to the Tokyo-based Mainichi. Japan calls the islets Takeshima and Korea calls them Dokdo.
The embassy also reportedly lodged a protest to the Korean government, stating that the islets are Japanese territory.
Seoul maintains that there is no territorial dispute as the Dokdo islets in the East Sea are historically, geographically and under international law an integral part of Korean territory.
It’s customary of the Moon government to send holiday gifts in a box designed after Korea's cultural heritage items. Last Lunar New Year, it was the 19th century painting “Ten Symbols of Longevity,” and during the last Chuseok harvest holidays it was the Joseon Dynasty’s court decoration “Ilwolobongdo.”
The Dokdo islets are known in Korea to be the first Korean territory to be hit with sunlight when the sun rises each day.
The Blue House as of Sunday has not officially commented on the matter, including whether the illustration was meant to signify Dokdo.
The latest protest from Japan follows a statement from Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi last week that also claimed the islets as Japanese.
The minister, in addressing the parliament on Jan. 17, claimed the islets are an “integral part of Japanese territory both historically and under international law.”
Korea’s Foreign Ministry protested immediately.
“We strongly protest the Japanese government's reiteration of its unfair claim to Dokdo through the foreign minister’s diplomatic address to the parliament, and we strongly urge that it be immediately withdrawn,” reads the statement released by the ministry within a few hours of the minister’s statement. “The Japanese government should immediately stop futile claims and attempts to claim Dokdo, which is clearly our own territory historically, geographically and internationally, and should be clearly aware that correct historical awareness is the basis for future-oriented development of Korea-Japan relations.”
The two countries’ relations have been at a historic low in recent years over a number of disputes, many relevant to the years when Japan had annexed Korea (1910-1945). They include disputes over compensation of victims of Japanese wartime sexual slavery and forced labor.
BY ESTHER CHUNG [email@example.com]