South Korea on Wednesday lodged a protest against Japan's new security strategy, which includes a reference to disputed islands known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea.
The Japanese cabinet approved the policy package on Tuesday. The plan consists of a national security strategy, defense program guidelines and a five-year defense build-up plan.
South Korea's foreign ministry said the National Security Strategy (NSS) part of the package included a description of “our territory, Dokdo,” which it said should be removed.
“Our government severely remonstrates with the Japanese government for including a description of our territory, Dokdo, in the National Security Strategy which was announced on December 17th. And we urge the Japanese government to delete it immediately,” said South Korean foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young.
The national security strategy said that with regards to the issue of sovereignty of “Takeshima”, Japan will make persevering diplomatic efforts, based on the principle of peaceful resolution of conflicts in accordance with international law.
Relations between the two nations have been lukewarm at best since August 2012, when then-South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visited the disputed islands. Koreans also still harbor bitter resentment of Japanese colonial rule from 1910 to 1945.
At the end of October, Japan lodged a protest after South Korea's military and coast guard conducted what it called an “unacceptable” defense drill on the disputed islands, the latest flare-up in tension between the two Asian neighbors.
South Korea controls the islands, which are equidistant from the mainlands of both countries.