The Korean Federation of Teachers’ Associations, together with various civic groups here, proclaimed Monday Dokdo Day.
The day celebrated the 100th anniversary of Oct. 15, 1900 when Emperor Gojong of the Daehan Empire officially announced the jurisdiction over the islets and nearby Ulleung Island in the East Sea.
The KFTA has decided to proclaim the day in order to remind all Koreans of their historic connection to Dokdo, said the federation in a statement.
“While the Korean government has shown only passive responses to the Japanese illicit claims over our territory, the National Assembly has also failed to pass the bill on designating the Dokdo Day,” said a KFTA official.
“We especially hope that young students shall acquire through such commemorative events a thorough understanding of the meaning and the history of Dokdo.”
Foreign press, including the Japanese NHK, covered the events.
DOKDO DAY — Civic group members hold a rally for the proclamation of Dokdo Day in Seoul on Monday. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
Japanese netizens, though generally less involved in the issue than Koreans, have lashed back, denouncing the designation of Dokdo Day as a crude and desperate effort.
The KFTA, civic groups and scholars already celebrated the day, but this year’s event follows a recent series of strong claims by neighboring Japan over the islets.
The Shimane Prefecture in western Japan designated Feb. 22 as Takeshima Day, claiming its rule over Dokdo which is referred to as Takeshima in Japanese.
Also, a new set of elementary school history textbooks passed the Japanese government’s screening this March, stating the rocky islets as part of Japanese territory.
Despite the Korean government’s protests, Japan has refused to change its stance over the textbooks.
The Korean government has not officially been involved in the civic-designated Dokdo Day celebration.
“The Korean government’s official view on the issue is that Dokdo has historically been part of Korean territory and therefore needs not to be proclaimed so,” said Hosaka Yuji, professor and head of the Dokdo research center at Sejong University in Seoul.
The Japanese-turned-Korean professor is widely known for his active defense of the Korean claims over the disputed islets.
“Such events will nevertheless contribute to promoting the public interest in the issue and to drawing the international eye.”
By Bae Hyun-jung (firstname.lastname@example.org