Published : 2013-02-28 20:48
Updated : 2013-02-28 20:48
The governments in Seoul and Tokyo clashed again over the Dokdo islets Thursday on the eve of South Korea’s national holiday marking the 1919 independence movement against Japan’s colonial rule.
The Korean Foreign Ministry denounced Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida for trying to raise an “unfair argument” on the eastern islets in his parliamentary speech.
“The government expresses strong regret about the ill-considered remarks by the foreign minister of Japan’s new government, who is trying to raise an unfair argument about Dokdo,” said ministry spokesman Han Hye-jin.
“Dokdo is an integral part of the Korean territory historically, geographically and under international law. The government will deal firmly with any attempts by Japan to undermine Korea’s sovereignty over Dokdo.”
Earlier in the day Kishida pledged to exert strenuous efforts in its sovereignty claim to Dokdo while calling for future-oriented ties with Seoul.
Relations between Seoul and Tokyo sank to one of the lowest-ever ebbs after former President Lee Myung-bak made an unprecedented visit to the group of rocky outcroppings in the East Sea between the two countries.
Japan has long laid claims to Dokdo in the country’s school textbooks and government reports, which Seoul views as a sign that Japan has not fully repented for its colonial rule from 1910-45.
Sources said President Park Geun-hye is expected to use her March 1 address to urge Tokyo to face up to its militaristic history in order to look to the future and strengthen ties between the two countries.
Park’s address will be watched closely as it comes just days after her inauguration and could set the tone for relations between the two sides.
Sources said that Park’s speech is expected to reflect remarks made during two previous meetings with high-level Japanese envoys.
Last month, Park told a special envoy of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Tokyo should “look squarely at history” and aim for a future of reconciliation and cooperation. She made a similar remark when she met with Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso on her inauguration day Monday.
“It is regrettable that historical issues and other pending matters are obstructing our relations,” Park was quoted as telling Aso. She also said that if the two sides are to establish genuine, friendly relations, Japan should “make sure that past scars will no longer worsen and should try to heal them while facing up to history.”