S Korea condemns Japan's latest territorial claim over disputed islets

18:27, April 06, 2010      

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The South Korean government expressed Tuesday strong regret over Japan's latest territorial claim over a set of disputed islets lying halfway between the two countries, calling it "disappointing."

"Let me make it clear to you: Territorial matters are not the kind of issues we can make concessions on," the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Sun-kyu said in a press briefing.

The remark came after the Japanese government recently renewed its decades-long sovereignty claim to a set of outcroppings in the East Sea (Sea of Japan), known as Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan, by listing them as Japan's territory in its diplomatic bluebook, an annual foreign policy report.

Seoul's foreign ministry immediately summoned a Japanese diplomat to officially protest the latest reassertion.

In a similar move that met with much public outcry here, Tokyo also recently approved elementary school textbooks that argue South Korea, which has maintained an effective control of the islets, "illegally occupies" them.

"Japan's claim, which is based on its false historical view, will have a negative influence not only on South Korea-Japan relations but on Japan's future," Park told reporters.

The latest diplomatic row came at a sensitive time when South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who recently vowed to seek ways to bolster the country's effective control of the islets, faces criticism at home over his alleged remark two years ago that seemed to acknowledge Japan's claims.

The Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun previously reported that Lee asked Japan's then-Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda at a summit in 2008 to wait for an "appropriate" time to repeat the claim, seemingly without protesting the move.

A trial is currently underway to decide whether the newspaper infringed upon South Korea's sovereignty with its report, which Cheong Wa Dae has said is groundless.

Source: Xinhua


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