S. Korea and Japan Spar Over Dokdo Islets

By Park Sae-jin Posted : August 16, 2012, 13:21 Updated : August 16, 2012, 13:21
Japan raised the prospect of taking a dispute with South Korea over possession of a group of islets to an international court after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visited them on Friday

The territorial dispute over the islets known as Dokdo heated up as Mr. Lee visited the place that is barely inhabitable and of unproven economic value but considered a symbol of their sovereign rights.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Friday that the islets belong to Japan “historically and by international law.” Japan’s Foreign Minister Koichiro Gembo said Tokyo may file a lawsuit over possession of the islets which prompted a statement from Seoul that the move would be “imprudent.”

During the London Olympics, South Korean fans held up “Dokdo is Korean Territory” signs during the game where the two countries competed for bronze medal. A South Korean player was even disqualified from the medal ceremony due to waving one of the signs after their win.

In Hiroshima, Japan, a man was arrested for throwing a brick at the South Korean consulate because he was upset about Mr. Lee’s visit to the disputed islets.

Located about halfway between the two countries, the islets were associated with mostly Korea until Japan asserted control during their colonial expansion.

Since, 1954, South Korea has maintained control of Dokdo with a small police force. Japan’s release on July 31 of an annual defense white paper restating its claims to the territory sparked the most recent sparring between the two countries.
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