News / Asia

Japan Increases Rhetoric Against S. Korea Over Island Dispute

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda speaks during a press conference at his official residence in Tokyo,  August 24, 2012.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda speaks during a press conference at his official residence in Tokyo, August 24, 2012.
TOKYO — Japan's top government officials and lawmakers are continuing to turn up the heat on two neighboring countries with claims on islands that Japan considers its own.

While calling on South Korea to respond to the territorial dispute in a wise and cautious manner, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's remarks at a Tokyo news conference Friday evening are likely to do little to ease rising diplomatic tensions with both Seoul and Beijing.

Noda tells reporters Japan will strengthen measures to secure its surrounding waters.

In a tough 10 minute opening statement, the Japanese prime minister asserted his country's territorial claims noting while it may be 61st in land size Japan's expansive maritime waters make it the world's sixth biggest sea power. When the depths of those waters are also taken into consideration, Noda asserts, Japan is number four.

Such boasts from a Japanese leader have been rare since the country's unconditional surrender in 1945. The defeat brought to an end the Pacific War and instantly eradicated Japan's half-century of brutal colonial expansionism.

Hours before Noda's news conference, South Korea lodged a formal diplomatic protest with Japan after both the prime minister and the foreign minister characterized South Korea's control of a disputed small island territory as an “illegal occupation”

South Korea's protest calls “unjustified” the Japanese claim to rocks nearly equidistant between the Korean peninsula and Japan's main island of Honshu.

Known internationally as the Liancourt Rocks, they cover a total area of less than one-fifth of a square kilometer. South Korea calls the territory Dokdo while the Japanese also claim them under the name of Takeshima.

An unprecedented August 10th visit to one of the rocks by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak angered Japanese.

Tensions Affect Diplomacy, Economics

South Korea's president has also raised Japanese emotions by using what the Japanese perceive as course language directed at Emperor Akihito.

Lee, earlier this month, said it would not be possible for the Japanese monarch to visit South Korea unless he offers a heartfelt apology for Japan's past colonization of the Korean peninsula. The South Korean president contended that a repeat of the Emperor's 1990 expression of “deepest regrets” would not be adequate.

The escalation of domestic tensions is spilling into economic relations, as well.

Japanese finance minister Jun Azumi acknowledges the tensions are influencing decisions on whether Tokyo will extend a currency swap arrangement with Seoul as well as Japanese purchases of South Korean government debt.

In a symbolic but rare action, Japan's parliament Friday adopted resolutions calling South Korea's recent actions and a successful landing by Chinese activists on a Japanese-held island “extremely regrettable.”

The Japan-China feud involves small islands in the East China Sea known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese.

In response to the landing by Hong Kong-based activists, the right-wing governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, is requesting permission for the metropolitan government to sail to the islands. Past requests have been refused by the central government but Prime Minister Noda says no decision has yet been made on whether the Tokyo request will be granted.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Afghanistan, Pakistan Leaders to Hold Icebreaking Talks in Paris

Two sides are expected to discuss ways to ease bilateral tensions and jointly work for resumption of stalled peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban officials

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: tmt from: Japan
August 25, 2012 7:35 AM
Syngman Rhee Line was obviously illegal.

by: Samurai from: Japan
August 24, 2012 11:14 AM
Both Korea and Japan have a pride. Korean people regard the annexation by Japan as dishonor. Japanese people regard President Lee's landing on the Japan's inherent territory "Takeshima" as insult and his terms to his Imperial Majesty as rudeness (corresponding to a so-called "High-Crime"). The reason why Japan was compelled to annex Korea is unambiguous to the people who have learned the truthful world history, i.e., Russia's go-southward policy. In Korea at that time, Korean imperial family members were exclusively engaged in struggle for power, and it was obvious that if that situation had been left as it was, Russia's big appetite would have swallowed Korea. If Korea had been swallowed by Russia, Japan also would have been occupied by Russia. Therefore, Japan involuntarily annexed Korea after consulting with the world community (especially, US and G.B,). Still now, Koreans hold grudge against the annexation by Japan. They should realize that they are happy because not being under the rule of Russia. Holding persisting grudge is one of the conspicuous characteristics of Koreans; however holding grudge does not lead to "Global Korea". It is a blessed relief that most of intelligent Korean people appreciate the annexation by Japan in a calm manner. Both nations should not be in a cat-and-dog relation but be aware of who is real enemy of both countries.
In Response

by: tmt from: Japan
August 25, 2012 7:24 PM
>Jonathan Huang

Syngman Rhee line was illegal.
but most of all the south korean do not know on this.
because south korean gov have been distorting history.

GHQ was going to burn the shrine.
but they didnt.
what do you think about ?
In Response

by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
August 25, 2012 12:31 AM
Thank yuo Samurai from Japan, you are the very evident to show evil Japanese fake history teaching. And now Japan is still worshipping those war criminals in a shrine even International court judged those were war criminals but Japan doesnt admit it. It is exactly why Korean and Chinese hate Japan.
In Response

by: Westmau from: US
August 24, 2012 10:25 PM
Who is now the real enemy of both South Korea and Japan then?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs