A long-standing dispute between South Korea and Japan over a pair of rocky islets in the Sea of Japan took a new turn Tuesday – as Seoul quickly dismissed a renewed claim by Tokyo for the territory.
Earlier in the day the Japanese Cabinet had offered its approval to Tokyo's 2014 defense white paper, including a statement of ownership regarding the islets Japan calls Takeshima, which lie in rich fishing grounds in an area suspected to contain large deposits of natural gas.
Seoul responded by lodging a protest via the Japanese Embassy in Seoul - while foreign ministry spokesperson Noh Kwang-il urged Tokyo to rescind its "unjustifiable claim" to the territory South Korea refers to as Dokdo.
The islets are closer to the Korean Peninsula than to Japan and are effectively controlled by Seoul given that a small number of South Koreans are permanently based there with the support of dozens of police officers and even the convenience of a post box.
While Japan has included its territorial claim in its defense white paper for the last decade, Seoul has funded an international campaign to persuade the rest of the world that the islets belong to South Korea – more than $4.5 million has been set aside for next year's promotions alone.
Relations between the two sides have been thorny due to a series of issues stemming from Japan's colonial rule over Korea between 1910 and 1945.
The timing of this latest dispute comes just days before it was hoped the nations' respective foreign ministers would hold talks while attending this weekend's security summit in Myanmar – the ASEAN Regional Forum.
Seoul ministry spokesperson Noh warned, "Japan should keep in mind that if it continues to lay claim to Dokdo, improvement in the Seoul-Tokyo relations will be far away."
Outside of Japan and Korea, the rocks are known as "The Liancourt Rocks" - named after French whaling ship "Le Liancourt" which came close to being wrecked on them in 1849.
AAGüncelleme Tarihi: 05 Ağustos 2014, 15:13