News / Asia

    Japan Protests South Korean Media Tour to Disputed Isle

    A set of remote islands called Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese is seen in this picture taken from a helicopter August 10, 2012.
    A set of remote islands called Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese is seen in this picture taken from a helicopter August 10, 2012.
    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."
     
    Some foreign media, on their own, have previously visited the islets, collectively known as Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese, but rarely has South Korea's government attempted to organize a group trip.
     
    A South Korean government attempt to take correspondents to the island by ship in April 2005 was unsuccessful due to bad weather but a second trip in August 2008 succeeded.
     
    On Thursday, several media organizations including BBC, CNN, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, International Herald Tribune, Le Figaro and The Washington Post flew by helicopter to the largest western islet.
     
    Japan's semi-official Kyodo news agency said the South Korean government-funded tour was “apparently sought to promote its claims to the islands.”
     
    Several officials at South Korea's Foreign Ministry and the official Culture and Information Service (KOCIS), under the Ministry of Culture and Information, deny their entities were behind the controversial visit, contending it was organized by the Northeast Asia History Foundation. The foundation is a South Korean government-funded organization which is assertive in promoting Korean sovereignty over the disputed rocks.
     
    “Because we did not organize the tour we have nothing to say,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman told VOA on condition he not be named.
     
    But several of the reporters who were taken to the disputed territory say they were officially invited via South Korean government representatives.
     
    “All indications are despite what South Korean officials declare today, the government here was intimately involved in planning this,” says Seoul Foreign Correspondents' Club president Steve Herman, who is VOA's bureau chief in the South Korean capital.
     
    Herman said the trip was arranged without the involvement of the SFCC, where about 100 of the Club's 250 correspondent members represent Japanese news outlets.
     
    Some Japanese reporters in Seoul say they would be hesitant to visit the disputed rocks under such arrangements because they view it as recognizing South Korea's claim to the territory.
     
    Tensions have dramatically increased between Seoul and Tokyo in recent months over the long-disputed rocks located halfway between the Korean peninsula and Japan's main island.
     
    The territory, also known internationally as the Liancourt Rocks, consists of two main islets and numerous smaller reefs composing a total land mass of less than 19 hectares.
     
    South Korea's Defense Ministry on Friday told VOA that on September 21 it scrambled F-15 fighter jets after a Japan Self- Defense Forces destroyer and one of the ship's anti-submarine warfare SH-60 helicopters “violated” its air defense safety zone without prior authorization.
     
    “This activity did not pose any issue under international law,” Japan's defense minister, Satoshi Morimoto, responded on Friday.
     
    Officials in Seoul say the 4,200-ton warship turned around away after a radio warning was issued by the South Korean military.
     
    Following an unprecedented visit to the disputed territory in August by South Korean president Lee Myung-bak, the Japanese government announced it had begun preparations to unilaterally take the dispute to the International Court of Justice.
     
    That is expected to further strain deteriorating bilateral ties. The United States, which has military bases in both countries, has urged both governments to work out the dispute through consultation.
     
    South Korea has had armed personnel on the remote island since the 1950s. Japan considers the rocks part of its Shimane prefecture and terms South Korea's occupation illegal.
     
    Japan is also enmeshed in decades-old unresolved territorial disputes with China and Russia that have also flared again in recent months.
     
    Youmi Kim in the VOA Seoul bureau contributed to this report.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Saito from: Japan
    October 05, 2012 10:42 AM
    The world should know - China is Arabs and Japan is Israel... Japanese people do not riot like monkeys in the streets... Japanese people respect order and decorum... China should be careful not to translate our dignity to mean cowardice... I can already sense Japanese nationalism getting strong again under Chinese provocations... China be careful how you behave, we are like Israel!!!
    In Response

    by: Brit Broxton from: U.S.A
    October 05, 2012 1:25 PM
    Just look at the thriving sex industry in Japan and tell me who are the Monkeys. :D
    In Response

    by: vindu16@yahoo.com from: U.S.A
    October 05, 2012 12:36 PM
    Japan is Japan. It is nothing like Isreal. China is a country with over 5000 years of history. Good and bad time we accept all our history and learn from them. The world already know a lot about bad japanese behaviors. Don't be naughty again.

    by: HanSangYoon from: South Korea
    October 05, 2012 10:39 AM
    Japan has no rights to claim the islands since they didn't own the island. Korea settled on the islands since the AD 500s, and Japan invaded in the 1600s claiming it "theirs". And since Japan knows they would increase in possibility of retaking over this island, they're continuously begging Korea to take them to the ICJ. But consider another Japanese dispute problem, the China-Japan's Senkaku/Diaoyutai Islands. China proposed the ICJ but Japan rejected it. Korea finds no reason why they should be going to the ICJ if they rejected the China-Japan ICJ. Japan must wake up and recognize three stuffs: Surrounding, Reality, and Truth.

    by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
    October 05, 2012 10:19 AM
    What's wrong with Japan? Now Japan is behaving like Germany in between WWI and WWII. Why Japan is conflicting with all its neighbors?
    In Response

    by: I love my country from: USA
    October 05, 2012 11:40 AM
    WHY? China is doing the same thing to its neighbors. WWIII soon in ASIA

    by: Samurai from: Japan
    October 05, 2012 7:32 AM
    Why S. Korea does not fairly and squarely submit a claim to the Takeshima islets to the international court? Takeshima is an inherent Japanese territory in the interests of justice. S. Korea stole the islets when Japan has not attained independence after WWII. I expected that Koreans have also learned manners and ethics from Confucius, to no avail. Doesn't S.Korea know who will really help it when it is in dire straits such as collapse of N.Korea?
    In Response

    by: Antisamurai from: USA
    October 05, 2012 9:09 PM
    Japanese, Why don't you go International Court with China, Taiwan and Russia??
    In Response

    by: Korean Confucious from: Seoul
    October 05, 2012 10:20 AM
    Equally, Mr. Samurai, does Japan have no shame? When was honor not part of the culture you abided? Frankly, you stole Dokdo when Korea was being annexed by your imperialist government. Frankly speaking, wasn't Okinawa and Daiyou originally China before again Japan imperialist decided to annex it?

    In the end, it's not a matter of culture but really about which historical event is more significant. And lastly, Japan doesn't aid unless their interest are met. That is with all sovereign nations. Simply put, it's not free and is intended to benefit Japan. Stop with this charade that Japan is superior because if you keep with this nationalism ignorance, then Japan will really be alone.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.