Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Hwang Hee looks at the map of the route of the Tokyo Olympic torch relay that includes the East Sea islets of Dokdo as Japanese territory during a parliamentary committee's general meeting held at the National Assembly in Seoul on Monday. South Korea has been in effective control of Dokdo since its liberation from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule. (Yonhap)
South Korea's culture minister said sports should be separated from politics regarding calls for a boycott of the Tokyo Olympics amid a renewed territorial spat over the East Sea islets of Dokdo between the two countries.
Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Hwang Hee made the remark during a parliamentary committee's general meeting held Monday evening, implying that the ministry is not considering boycotting the upcoming Olympics, only a month away.
Calls for such a measure emerged among the public and a group of lawmakers, mostly from the ruling Democratic Party (DP), after Dokdo appeared on a map showing the route of the Tokyo Olympic torch relay posted on the official Tokyo Olympic website in an apparent territorial claim to the South Korean islets by the Japanese government.
"The ministry is looking at the matter with a perspective that politics and sports should be kept apart," Hwang said in response to Rep. Lee Yong from the main opposition People Power Party on his view of the boycott demand.
Hwang also agreed with Lee's statement that the athletes' opinions should be valued the most when determining participation in the global sporting event.
On DP Rep. Lim O-kyeong's request that the country raise the issue in cooperation with Russia -- another country in territorial dispute with Japan -- the culture minister reaffirmed his stance on separating politics and sports.
"The foreign ministry should decide whether it will actively deal with the matter," he added.
Dokdo has long been a recurring source of tension between South Korea and Japan, as Tokyo continues to lay claim to the islets in its policy papers, public statements and school textbooks.
Seoul has been in effective control of Dokdo, with a small police detachment, since its liberation from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule. (Yonhap)