Japanese holiday ‘celebrating’ disputed islands sparks backlash in South Korea

South Korean national police guard the Takeshima islands in pairs positioned at various lookout points. (Chico Harlan/The Washington Post)

Web users in both Japan and South Korea are up in arms over Japanese celebrations on Friday of Takeshima Day — a quasi-official holiday designed, appropriately, to mark an old territorial spat between Japan and South Korea.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/02/23/japanese-holiday-celebrating-disputed-islands-sparks-backlash-in-south-korea/

Japan sends envoy to South Korea in bid to dial down tensions

In the wake of elections that put hawkish leaders in power, Japan has reached out to South Korea in a bid to dial down tensions. Shinzo Abe, the new prime minister of Japan, sent an envoy to South Korea to meet Friday with Park Geun-hye, who was recently elected president.

“I’d like to act as a bridge to make this year a good one for both of our countries,” Japanese envoy Fukushiro Nukaga said, as quoted by the Kyodo news agency.

Park said she too wanted to rebuild ties, but urged Japan to “squarely face” its history. The closely watched meeting comes as the two countries spar over disputed islands and the sensitive history of South Koreans serving as “comfort women” for Japanese soldiers during World War II.

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/news/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-japan-envoy-south-korea-20130104,0,3383711.story

S. Korea renames peaks of Dokdo to symbolize sovereignty

October 28, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: Asia, Dokdo, Education, History, Info, Soft Power, U.S. Policy, War Crimes 

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — South Korea said Sunday that it has selected new official names for peaks on Dokdo, a group of its easternmost islets in the East Sea, in an apparent bid to better symbolize its sovereignty over the territory frequently claimed by its neighbor Japan.

Dokdo, which lies closer to South Korea in the body of water between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, has long been a thorn in relations between the two countries. South Korea keeps a small police detachment on the islets — consisting mainly of Dongdo and Seodo — effectively controlling them.

According to the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, the government has decided to rename Dongdo “Usanbong” and Seodo “Daehanbong,” and use the new names starting Monday in the country’s official maps, textbooks and Internet portals.

Read more: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2012/10/28/91/0301000000AEN20121028000700320F.HTML

Korea Asks Google to Correct Dokdo Blunder

October 28, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: Asia, Dokdo, History, Info, U.S. Policy, War Crimes 

The Foreign Ministry on Thursday asked web search giant Google to restore the Korean name and address of the Dokdo islets on its map service. They were apparently deleted and replaced with an old nautical name.

“We made it clear that we can’t accept Google’s new policy because Dokdo is clearly Korean territory,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tae-young told reporters. Seoul told Google that the change is “unacceptable and requested that it show the name of Dokdo on Google Maps,” he added.

Read more: http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2012/10/26/2012102601282.html

South Korea parliamentarians visit islands claimed by Japan

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean members of parliament visited a set of remote islands also claimed by Japan on Tuesday, a move likely to further fray ties between two of the most important U.S. allies in Asia.

The tour followed a visit by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in August, the first by a Korean leader, which prompted Japan to recall its ambassador to Seoul. The row was then overshadowed by a far more acute dispute between Tokyo and Beijing over another island group.

Read more: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-korea-japanbre89m0ev-20121023,0,4297739.story

Korean Automakers Thrive in China as Japanese Car Sales Plummet

October 8, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: Asia, Dokdo, Economy, History, Info, U.S. Policy 

South Korea’s automakers reported record sales in China last month while Japanese manufacturers posted declines after anti-Japan protests over disputed islands escalated in the world’s largest vehicle market.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-07/korean-automakers-thrive-in-china-as-japan-car-sales-plummet.html

US should side with Korea on Dokdo

October 6, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: Dokdo, U.S. Policy 

By David C. Kang

Diplomatic tensions between Korea and Japan over historical issues and territory flared yet again this summer, being by far the most serious row between the two countries since the mid-2000s.

With both sides focused far more on proving each others’ misdeeds than on finding a solution to the issue, the disputes threaten to spill over and potentially affect economic relations between the two countries, as well as distract the respective leaderships from focusing on a number of pressing domestic and foreign issues.

While Korean President Lee Myung-bak came into office four years ago pledging not to confront Tokyo over historical issues, these issues remain dormant and always a potential problem for Korea-Japan relations.

Indeed, Lee is the third consecutive Korean president to have a “false start” with Japan: both Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun pledged to look to the future with Japan, only to be limited by the past.

Much of the controversy over Dokdo has been about whether Korea or Japan had historical ownership of the islands or whether Korea or Japan first provoked the current dispute.

However, those issues are not really important, because there are two clear facts in the case: Korea controls the islands, and both Korea and Japan claim the islands.

That is, there is no doubt in my mind that Dokdo is Korean, and there is no need to engage in any type of debate with Japan over the islands. Dokdo is Korean, and it is controlled by Korea, so there is no ambiguity at all.

However, the dispute rages on, and Koreans and Japanese are increasingly taking actions that may have ramifications for economic, social, and military relations between the two countries.

Because Korea and Japan show no signs of resolving the dispute anytime soon, it might be important to ask what ramifications it will have on wider regional relations, particularly with America and China.

The United States has tried to remain neutral in East Asian territorial disputes, despite the fact that the United States wrote the 1951 San Francisco Treaty that left many of these territorial disputes unresolved.

Furthermore, it is easier for Japan to ignore their history under a U.S. treaty alliance that allows the Japanese to see their history as both “already resolved” and essentially simply a different viewpoint than the Koreans.

After all, if the U.S. is neutral, that must mean that Japanese views of history are just as valid as Korean views of history.

This is a mistake for American leaders. Ignoring issues that both Koreans and Japanese see as important will not those issues disappear. If anything, the events of the past few years reveal that ignoring the questions of territory and history only makes them more difficult to solve.

Furthermore, U.S. leadership in East Asia does not mean trying to force its closest allies to ignore their own priorities and simply concentrate on American priorities ― that will be a losing strategy.

Rather, American leadership needs to be exercised in a manner that helps the three potential allies to work through their disputes, and this will involve admission by the U.S. that the U.S. is not a neutral “referee,” but rather deeply involved in the disputes and cannot avoid them.

An unfortunate fact that is often missed in analysis of Korea-Japan relations is that there is a perceptible absence of any reliable U.S. mediator to foster detente for Seoul and Tokyo when tensions get high.

It is also unclear whether the U.S. can remain “neutral” in the dispute between Korea and Japan, and at the same time, help mend relations so as to bring both states under the trilateral alliance.

What is clear, however, is that continued souring of Korea-Japan relations makes the U.S. the equivalent of the shrimp in the fight between whales: Korean and Japanese whales who really care about the issue.

At the same time, Korean and Japanese leaders need to be aware that focusing on the Dokdo dispute means that the greatest beneficiary of tensions between Seoul and Tokyo may be China, which can channel the tensions to levy even greater pressure against Japan toward its own territorial dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, as well as deter American plans to counter China by forging greater trilateralism in the region between the U.S., Japan, and Korea.

When commentators often cite that Korea-Japan relations are not zero-sum, they forget that there are more than two players at stake.

As a direct reverberation of the mounting tensions between Korea and Japan, there was a perceptible feeling from some voices coming out of China that could not help but feel some sense of satisfaction at seeing Japan “cornered.”

In sum, the dispute over Dokdo has a wide regional impact. The U.S. position becomes weaker, given America’s inability to help its two allies resolve the dispute.

China’s position is probably strengthened, although it may be strengthened in a manner that makes many Koreans uncomfortable.
Dokdo is, and will remain, Korean…but Korea should also think about the larger implications of the issue, as well.

David C. Kang is professor of International Relations and Business, and director of the Korean Studies Institute, at the University of Southern California. His books include “Crony Capitalism: Corruption and Development in South Korea and the Philippines,” “Nuclear North Korea” (with Victor Cha), “China Rising: Peace, Power, and Order in East Asia,” and “East Asia before the West: Five Centuries of Trade and Tribute.”

SK scrambles F-15s to intercept Japanese helicopter near Dokdo

October 6, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: Asia, Dokdo 

SEOUL — A Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter flew close on Sept. 21 to the South Korean-controlled islets claimed by Japan, prompting South Korea to mobilize fighter jets, according to TV broadcaster KBS.

The chopper left the area after being warned away by the South Korean military, KBS reported Thursday.

The MSDF confirmed Friday that one of its helicopters entered the area while conducting a takeoff and landing drill on a destroyer positioned some 50 km east of the disputed islets in the Sea of Japan known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea.

Read more: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20121006a3.html

Japan Protests South Korean Media Tour to Disputed Isle

October 5, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: Dokdo 

Japan has officially complained to South Korea about a trip to a disputed rocky island organized Thursday for selected foreign media organizations.
“We’ve already lodged a protest because the move is inconsistent with our country’s position,” the Japanese foreign minister, Koichiro Gemba, told reporters in Tokyo on Friday.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman, in a VOA interview, elaborated that for the South Korean government to transport correspondents via Seoul to the island is “totally unacceptable and extremely regrettable.”

He said when the Japanese government learned Wednesday that the reporters, including at least one based in Tokyo, intended to accept the invitation from South Korea to take a helicopter ride to the islets Japan “strongly requested they refrain.”

Read more: http://www.voanews.com/content/japan-protests-south-korean-media-tour-to-disputed-isle/1520848.html

S. Korea presses Japan on wartime sexual slavery at U.N.

September 30, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: Comfort Women, Dokdo, Prison Camp, Sexual Slavery, War Crimes 

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 28 (Yonhap) — In a thinly-veiled swipe at Japan, South Korea’s top diplomat urged the world to make utmost efforts to end “wartime sexual violence” and exhorted any offender to face “the dark side of its history and rectify past wrongdoings.”

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly on Friday, South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan also implicitly criticized Japan for continuing to claim the South Korean islets of Dokdo, saying “no country should abuse” the rule of law to infringe upon another’s territorial integrity.

Although Kim did not mention Japan by name or directly refer to historical issues raising tensions with Tokyo in his speech, such as so-called “comfort women” and Dokdo, it was the first time South Korea has raised such issues at the U.N. assembly.

 ”Wartime sexual violence is a fundamental infringement of human rights, and is in fact an affront to human dignity and integrity,” Kim said.

Kim urged the world to “make utmost efforts to put an end to such atrocities, not only taking all measures to protect women and girls in armed conflicts, but also providing effective remedies and reparations for victims.”

“It requires a sound historical consciousness and heartfelt soul-searching on any past wrongdoings in order for solid peace and stability to be established between nations,” Kim said.

Read more:http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2012/09/29/82/0301000000AEN20120929001400315F.HTML

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