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Activist offers long debate with Japanese over Dokdo

A civic activist is pushing for a debate on the sovereignty of Dokdo with a Japanese figure who claims the rocky islets are part of Japanese territory.

Kim Jum-ku, head of the Dokdo Protection Party, said Sunday that he will deliver his invitation to Shimojo Masao, a renowned scholar known for his claims on Japan’s sovereignty over Dokdo, known as Takeshima in Japan. The invitation will take place Tuesday when Japan’s Shimane Prefecture is to celebrate “Takeshima Day.”

“I think Dokdo is the largest hindrance in forging ties between the two countries. Understanding each other through debates seems to be the only way to settle the relations,” Kim said.

If Shimojo accepts, it will be the second time for the two activists to argue face-to-face on the sovereignty of Dokdo. The first debate was held in 2006, when the Japanese scholar visited Korea with his colleagues to study about Dokdo and Ulleungdo, an island near the islets. The discussion ended with both parties reaffirming their differences.

For the possible next debate, Kim said he and his colleagues have secured updated information and evidence. On their trip to Japan, which started on Sunday, they will also visit the local Takeshima museum, meet Japanese people who went to Korea during the colonial rule (1910-1945) and others. They believe new information will put them in an advantageous position in the debate.

“The chances that Shimojo takes the invitation are slim. As far as I remember, he struggled at the last debate when we showed him some information that he couldn’t refute,” Kim said. “And I don’t think we will be able to make a real progress in Japan, in the middle of people who believe Dokdo is theirs. But I hope he takes the offer because it is a great opportunity for us to publicize the issue in Japan and our perspectives,” he said.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)
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