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Korea slams Japan’s Dokdo video

Parliament increases budget for sovereignty campaign next year

South Korea on Thursday condemned Japan for releasing a video in 10 languages challenging its sovereignty over Dokdo, and demanded that Tokyo remove it.

“We gravely protest and demand that Japan remove the videos immediately,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young told reporters. “Such provocative behavior casts doubt over Japan’s sincerity regarding the improvement of bilateral ties.”

The film, posted Wednesday by the Japanese foreign ministry on its own website and on YouTube, insists the islets in the East Sea, called Takeshima by Tokyo, are its own.

The 90-second clip ― subtitled and dubbed in 10 languages, including English, Korean, Chinese, French, Spanish and Arabic ― describes Seoul’s de facto control over the islets as “illegal.”

“We will not tolerate any attempt by Japan to violate our territorial sovereignty and will deal with it sternly,” he added.

The ministry will release videos on its own website and YouTube that counter Japan’s claims in several languages later this month, Cho said.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry website also published a multi-language leaflet to accompany the video, arguing that Japan’s connection to the islets stretches back more than 200 years.

Japan is embroiled in a separate row with China over another set of disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry also put out this week a video reasserting its claim to these islands ― called Senkaku by Tokyo and Diaoyu by Beijing ― in 10 languages.

Meanwhile, Korea’s parliament sharply hiked next year’s budget for promoting South Korea’s ownership of Dokdo, the Foreign Ministry said.

The Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee, which oversees the foreign affairs and unification ministries, adopted a 6.84 billion won ($6.5 million) budget bill for the Foreign Ministry’s activities in 2014 to globally promote the country’s ownership over the set of small islets, according to the ministry.

The bill has been handed to the National Assembly’s budget settlement committee for review, it said.

The so-called Dokdo budget for 2014 marks a 60-percent increase from the 4.24 billion won that was approved for this year.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had initially earmarked a 4.24 billion won budget again for 2014, but the parliamentary committee boosted it by 2.6 billion won, citing the need to react more actively against Japan’s intensifying territorial claims.

The Dokdo budget will cover the costs of history studies, data filing and promotional campaigns in and outside of the country to reassert the country’s ownership of Dokdo and guard against Japan’s growing ownership claims.

In 2003, South Korea first allocated a separate budget of 250 million won to combat Japan’s continuing territorial claims, and has steadily increased the amount, raising it to 2.37 billion won in 2011 and bringing it up to 4.24 billion won this year.

South Korea and Japan carried out a joint search and rescue exercise in the East China Sea on Thursday, military officials said, amid escalating tension between the Northeast Asian nations over their overlapping air defense zones.

The biennial naval exercise took place in the East China Sea near the South Korea-controlled reef of Ieodo, a flashpoint of regional rivalries, as it is included in the air defense zones of Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo.

Two destroyers and two maritime helicopters each from South Korea and Japan attended the search and rescue training to practice joint responses to sea accidents, military officials said.

“It is the eighth South Korea-Japan SAREX held since 1999,” a Navy official said. “They did exercises on rescuing wrecked ships and crews, and extinguishing fires on ships.”

(From news reports)
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