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S. Korea watches Japan's possible provocations over Dokdo

South Korea is closely watching Japan's plans to unveil its review of school textbooks and an annual diplomatic report as they are expected to contain Tokyo's repeated claim to South Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo, officials said Sunday.

Japan plans to unveil the results of an examination of textbooks for middle school students Monday and publish an annual report on its foreign policy and activities Tuesday, both of which are expected to contain Tokyo's territorial claim to Dokdo.

Japan has long declared sovereignty over the Dokdo islets, which lie closer to South Korea than Japan in waters between the two countries, in one of the thorniest diplomatic issues between the two.

In January 2014, Japan began requiring publishers of teaching manuals for Japanese school textbooks to contain Tokyo's territorial claim to Dokdo.

"We expect the textbooks to follow the revised teaching manuals," a Seoul foreign ministry official said.

South Korean Ambassador to Japan Yoo Heung-soo said Friday that all of the 18 textbooks under review look to have such contents, raising fears for sparking diplomatic tension.

Japan is likely to further anger South Korea as its foreign ministry plans to unveil the 2015 Diplomatic Bluebook.

In last year's report, Tokyo said the islets are "clearly an inherent territory of Japan," in light of historical facts and based upon international law.

South Korea has rejected Japan's claim to Dokdo as nonsense because the country regained its independence from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule and reclaimed sovereignty over its territories, including Dokdo and many other islands around the Korean Peninsula.

"Seoul will sternly respond to any provocations that Japan makes in terms of Korea's territorial sovereignty," a Seoul official said.

Experts say that Japan's potential provocations over the islets are expected to further dampen bilateral ties, which have already reached their lowest level in recent years due to history issues that include Tokyo's use of South Korean women as wartime sex slaves in World War II. (Yonhap)
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