News / Asia

Tensions Remain Between Japan, S. Korea Over Disputed Island

Masaru Sato, Assistant Press Secretary at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, holding a 16th-century map of Korea to explain Japan's claim to the island of Takeshima, August 22, 2012. (VOA/Miguel Quintana)Masaru Sato, Assistant Press Secretary at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, holding a 16th-century map of Korea to explain Japan's claim to the island of Takeshima, August 22, 2012. (VOA/Miguel Quintana)
x
Masaru Sato, Assistant Press Secretary at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, holding a 16th-century map of Korea to explain Japan's claim to the island of Takeshima, August 22, 2012. (VOA/Miguel Quintana)
Masaru Sato, Assistant Press Secretary at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, holding a 16th-century map of Korea to explain Japan's claim to the island of Takeshima, August 22, 2012. (VOA/Miguel Quintana)
TOKYO — Japan has returned its ambassador to South Korea after recalling him over a territorial dispute that involves an island in the Sea of Japan.  In Tokyo there are still signs that both countries remain far apart on the issue.

Japan’s ambassador to South Korea has returned to Seoul.  He was recalled earlier this month after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s visit to a disputed island in the Sea of Japan triggered a diplomatic crisis.

The island is called Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea.

The Japanese government sent a letter to South Korea on Tuesday, proposing to take the matter to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).  But Japanese media reported Wednesday the letter was on its way back to Tokyo.

At a Japan Foreign Ministry press briefing, Assistant Press Secretary Masaru Sato said South Korea has rejected similar offers twice in the past, but he expressed hope that Seoul would finally accept to defer the matter to the ICJ.

"Things have changed.  Korea is now advocating global Korea, and it is a responsible member of the United Nations.  If they believe their claim is justifiable, they should fairly and unequivocally accept Japan’s proposal," said Sato. "If they say no, we are seeking an amicable, peaceful solution.  There is no way to force them to agree to our proposal, but it is time for Korea to accept our proposals."

Sato explained the Japanese government is preparing to take additional measures to deal with the crisis, depending on the way South Korea responds to its proposal.  But he also stressed that Japan is eager to find a peaceful settlement that will prevent the issue from affecting bilateral ties.

“Japan-Korea relations are very important, not only economically, but also to maintain peace and stability in the region.  We do not want a deterioration of bilateral relations, and that is exactly why we would like to take an appropriate legal response.  We believe that Korea’s reactions have been very, very unusual, and we can say that it is a diplomatic aberration in terms of international practice," Sato explained.

He also reiterated Japan’s claim to the island, saying historical documents confirm that Japan established its sovereignty over Takeshima by the mid 17th century, before incorporating it into one of its prefectures in 1905.  

He said the United States has acknowledged the territory is an integral part of Japan by denying a South Korean attempt to claim it after World War Two.

Seoul’s prompt rejection of the Japanese letter is likely to send shockwaves through diplomatic circles in Tokyo.  Japan’s national broadcaster NHK has called it an “unprecedented response” in terms of diplomatic protocol.

With another territorial dispute with China lingering on over islands in the East China Sea, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s administration could find itself under renewed pressure from nationalist groups to adopt a stronger stance.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid