South Korea’s ruling party leader urged the government Monday to ban a group of Japanese lawmakers from entering the country as they plan to visit an island near the country’s easternmost islets of Dokdo in an attempt to lay claims to the islets.
Four lawmakers of Japan’s conservative opposition Liberal Democratic Party said last week they are planning to visit Ulleung Island in the East Sea, the closest they can get to Dokdo without receiving South Korean government permission.
The move has sparked outcry from South Korea, which has flatly rejected Japan’s territorial claims over Dokdo as a sign that Tokyo has not fully repented for its 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
“Their visit to our territory is aimed at denying the constitutional order of the Republic of Korea,” Rep. Hong Joon-pyo of the Grand National Party said in a senior party meeting, using to South Korea’s official name.
“The justice ministry should bar the right-wing Japanese lawmakers from entering our nation.”
Plans for the visit came after Tokyo’s foreign ministry banned its officials from taking Korean Air flights as a punitive measure against the airline, which flew a test flight of its first Airbus A380 over Dokdo last month.
Calling Japan’s claim on Dokdo “a ghost of unscrupulous imperialism,” Hong said the Seoul government should ban the Tokyo lawmakers’ entry based on a South Korean immigration law that blocks those who pose a threat to the nation’s public security.
Another senior GNP lawmaker, Lee Sang-deuk, the brother of President Lee Myung-bak, asked for the cooperation of ruling and opposition Japanese lawmakers over the weekend in getting the DLP legislators to drop their plan to visit Ulleung Island for political purposes, his aides said.
The issue of Dokdo has long been a major thorn in relations between the two countries as Tokyo periodically renews its territorial claims. South Korea rejects such claims as nonsense, saying it reclaimed sovereignty over its territory at the end of the colonial rule.