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Minister visits Dokdo with radiation monitor

Amid ongoing concerns over radiation leaks and territorial disputes, Education, Science and Technology Minister Lee Ju-ho visited Dokdo on Friday to install an automated radiation monitor.

“We intend to protect our people from any potential effects of environmental radiation,” said Lee on one of the East Sea islets.

The monitor is to start operating on Saturday, after a day of system testing, according to officials.

Though officials announced that level of radioactivity found in the Korean peninsula has no effect on the human body, the worldwide radiation fears are yet to subside.

Education, Science and Technology Minister Lee Ju-ho (right) looks at a radiation monitor in Dokdo on Friday.
Education, Science and Technology Minister Lee Ju-ho (right) looks at a radiation monitor in Dokdo on Friday.
The ministry, together with the state-run Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety, is currently keeping a 24-hour watch on the radiation level and updating the results on a daily basis.

Also, all 12 regional stations of the institute are similarly measuring the aerial radioactivity.

The ministry will also lead a weekly radiation analysis of the sea water, marine ecosystem and the 22 water filtration centers across the nation. Focus is to be placed on the East Sea which lies between Korea and radiation-hit Japan, officials said.

By visiting Dokdo, the minister not only made a gesture to relieve the people’s anxiety over the radioactive aftermaths of Fukushima, but also hinted at the government’s territorial claim over the much disputed island.

The ministry officially requested the Japanese government on Thursday to call off the new middle school history textbooks which once again contended for sovereignty over Dokdo.

Though the issue has been repeated in the past, the Korean government seems more determined than ever.

“The Korean government shall remain firm on the issue,” said the spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry on Thursday.

“The Dokdo disputes date back to Japan’s unlawful colonial rule in the early 20th century, for which Japan is to make sincere apologies first.”

President Lee Myung-bak also spoke out on the island during a press conference in Cheong Wa Dae on Friday morning.

“No matter what happens, Dokdo belongs to Korean territory,” Lee said.

“As president, I shall be careful with my words but nevertheless have the same feelings about the issue as the rest of the people.”

Lee also said that Korea currently has an actual territorial sovereignty over the island and therefore needs not make direct responses to Japan’s provocation.

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)
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