|Members of civic groups criticize Japan for its repeated claim to South Korea’s easternmost islets of Dokdo during a rally in front of the Japanese Embassy in central Seoul on Saturday. Yonhap|
Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the embassy in central Seoul and expressed concerns over Japan's celebration of Takeshima Day, named after Japan's moniker for the islets in the East Sea. Japan marks the controversial day, which falls on Feb. 22, to continue to lay claims to the rocky islets that lie in waters between the two neighbors.
Japan's Shimane prefectural government has been observing the day every year since 2005.
Along with the issue, protesters also demanded the Japanese government to take responsibility for its past wrongdoings, including by not paying visits to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo.
Last December, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the controversial war shrine that honors the Japanese war dead including Class A war criminals from World War II, stoking public anger in South Korea and casting a pall over the already shaky bilateral relations.
Seoul and Tokyo have yet to resolve various historical and territorial disputes stemming from Japan's 1910-45 colonization of the Korean Peninsula.
South Korean lawmakers have also condemned Japan's latest move.
The ruling Saenuri Party said in its announcement that Japan's move reveals its blatant greed to disseize the Dokdo islets.
"If Japan continues its wrongdoings despite the South Korean government's warning, the relationship between the two countries will be distorted, and the international community will turn its back on Japan," said Saenuri spokesman Min Hyun-joo.
The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) echoed the view, adding that the only righteous name for South Korea's easternmost islets is Dokdo, and calling the territory by any other name is an intrusion of Seoul's sovereignty.
“Dokdo is South Korea's territory historically and effectively," said DP spokesman Park Kwang-on. "Japan's claim only justifies and glorifies its colonization of (Korea), which apparently goes against history and peace." (Yonhap)