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Hike in Dokdo budget misses original target

Hike in Dokdo budget misses original target

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Published : 2014-01-02 10:05
Updated : 2014-01-02 10:05

The South Korean parliament failed to raise this year's budget for promoting the country's ownership of the easternmost islets of Dokdo as originally planned, despite Japan's growing attempts to lay claim to the territory, the foreign ministry said Thursday.

The National Assembly approved a 4.84 billion won ($4.63 million) budget bill for the government's efforts in 2014 to globally promote the country's ownership of a cluster of rocky outcroppings lying in the East Sea and to counter Japan's false territorial claims to it.

The amount for this year marks an around 14 percent increase from last year's 4.24 billion won.

But it is a sharp cut from the 6.84 billion won budget bill that the parliament's Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee adopted earlier last month.

The foreign ministry had initially earmarked the same amount of the Dokdo budget for 2014 as last year, but the parliamentary committee expanded it by 60 percent, citing the need to react more actively against Japan's rightward moves.

It is a stark contrast to repeated calls from both parties for stronger responses to Japan's territorial claims, seen by South Koreans as a sign that Tokyo has not repented for its brutal colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

Some pointed out that the parliamentary failure to increase the Dokdo budget resulted from lawmakers' old practice of pork barreling to secure state funding for their own districts.

Japan has long laid claims to Dokdo in the country's school textbooks, government reports and other ways, stoking enmity in South Korea against its former colonial ruler.

South Korea says such claims amount to Japan denying Korea's independence from its colonial rule, as Seoul reclaimed sovereignty over its territory -- including Dokdo and many other islands around the Korean Peninsula -- when it regained independence.

South Korea has been keeping a small police detachment on Dokdo since 1954.

Japan has decided to earmark 11.5 billion won for 2014 for its territorial activities, including South Korea's Dokdo, up by 1.9 billion won.

South Korea's Dokdo budget is to cover costs for history studies, data filing and promotional campaigns in and outside of the country to reassert the country's sovereignty over the islets.

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 to reach 2.37 billion won in 2011 and further to 4.24 billion won this year.

In the latest effort to counter Japan's territorial claims to Dokdo, South Korea on Wednesday released an online video clip publicizing its sovereignty, which includes historical evidence purporting to show that Dokdo is Korean. (Yonhap News)

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