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Seoul rebuffs Japan’s legal action on Dokdo

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Published : 2012-08-12 20:38
Updated : 2012-08-12 20:38

Tokyo plans to set up body dedicated to handle territorial disputes: report


South Korea will not respond to Japan’s move to take the issue of Dokdo to an international court, a senior Seoul official said Saturday, amid fresh tension following President Lee Myung-bak’s unprecedented visit to the islets.

Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba told reporters on the day that Tokyo would consider measures to settle the issue, including referring the case to the International Court of Justice.

“Japan’s intention behind its consideration of bringing the case before the court is to make the islets an international dispute,” the Seoul official told media on condition of anonymity.

“Seoul’s basic position is that as Dokdo is unequivocally our territory, (the government) will not respond (to any move to refer the case to the court).”

A country cannot take a case to the international court without the other party’s consent.

Just five days before the country’s Aug. 15 Liberation Day, Lee flew to Dokdo, becoming the first head of state to visit Korea’s easternmost islets. The visit happened hours before Korea and Japan clashed in an Olympic soccer match for the bronze medal.

After landing on the island, Lee said, “Dokdo is indisputably our territory worthy of dedicating our lives to protect.”

Gemba expressed Tokyo’s deep displeasure over Lee’s visit to Dokdo.

“The reason why (Tokyo) has not made a third suggestion to refer the issue to the court was that we took into account how it would impact the overall bilateral relationship,” he told reporters.

“But such consideration has become unnecessary now.”

In 1954, when Korea established a lighthouse on the islets, it requested that the case be brought before the court. In 1962 when the two countries began negotiations over the normalization of their diplomatic relations, Japan made the same request.

Japan, which colonized the Korean Peninsula from 1910-1945, has persistently made a sovereignty claim to the islets, which it calls Takeshima. It has recently been more aggressive in its claim.

It has claimed Dokdo as its own territory in its school textbooks, and diplomatic and defense policy documents. It has also called on Seoul to delete the depiction of the islets in Seoul’s diplomatic whitepaper as Korean territory.

Mired in territorial spats over Senkaku islands with China and Kuril Islands with Russia, the Tokyo government is considering establishing a state body dedicated to handling sovereignty disputes, Japan’s Sankei Shinbun reported Sunday.

Meanwhile, at around 2:50 a.m. on Saturday, a man threw a brick through the glass entrance door of the consulate office in Hiroshima, leaving a hole in the door. No injuries were reported.

The man was reportedly questioned by the police. According to Kyoto News, he claimed to be a member of a conservative civic group, explaining that he was infuriated by President Lee’s visit to the islets.

Amid deteriorating public sentiment toward Korea among conservatives in Japan, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry asked Japan’s police to increase security at nine Korean missions in Japan, officials said.

Following Lee’s visit, the Tokyo government summoned Ambassador to Japan Shin Kak-soo and recalled its ambassador to Korea Masashi Muto. It also delayed the bilateral finance ministers’ meeting slated for this month.

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldcorp.com)

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