July 14, 2008

S. Korea, Japan Renew Territorial Dispute

South Korea reacted strongly Monday to Japans' move to show two disputed islets called Takeshima in the Sea of Japan as part of its territory.

The claim over the islets controlled by South Korean was contained in an educational document released by Japan's Education Ministry.

Saying the claim is unacceptable and intolerable, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said South Korea planned to temporarily recall its ambassador to Japan, Yonhap news agency reported. In South Korea, the islets are referred to as Dokdo.

The report said the Japanese teachers' handbook to be used from 2012 will treat the islets' issue the same way as Japan's long-running claim over four islands now under Russian control.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman said Dokdo clearly belongs to South Korea historically, geographically, and by international law and that the government will deal sternly with any attempt to undermine its sovereignty over Dokdo.

The Japanese ministry said students must learn there are differing opinions with South Korea over the uninhabited islets but that they are Japan's territory, Kyodo news service reported.

The ownership of the islets, which have numerous reefs and cover an area of 2.2 million square feet, has long been under dispute between the two countries. The Kyodo report said the document is non-binding, serving only as a guideline for teachers and textbook publishers.