News / Asia

S. Korea to Return Japan's Protest Letter Amid Island Dispute

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A simmering territorial dispute between South Korea and Japan continued Thursday, with Seoul saying it would return a protest letter sent by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

Prime Minister Noda sent the letter to protest South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's recent visit to a group of rocky islands controlled by Seoul but claimed by both countries.

Seoul says it is returning the letter on the grounds that it is contains inaccuracies regarding the islands, known as Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan.

The letter also expressed regret at Lee's recent comments that Japan's Emperor Akihito should apologize for his country's colonial rule of South Korea.

Relations between the two Asian neighbors have soured since Lee's August 10 visit, which was the first ever by a South Korean president.

Earlier this week, South Korea dismissed a proposal by Japan to take the decades-old dispute to the International Court of Justice.

The disagreement has also jeopardized talks between Japanese Prime Minister Noda and President Lee that were slated for next month on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Forum.

Tokyo is also reportedly considering whether to call off a soon-expiring currency swap deal with South Korea, as well as several other diplomatic or economic measures in response to Lee's visit to the islands.

Meanwhile, hundreds of South Korean protesters staged a rally in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul Thursday, denouncing Japan's claim to the islands.

Activist pumped their fists, chanted anti-Japan slogans and wore headbands emblazoned with words defending South Korea's claim over the string of islands.
The largely uninhabited islets have been under effective South Korean control since the end of Japanese colonial rule after World War II.

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Comment Sorting
by: Nonpartisan Critic from: Worldwide
August 23, 2012 6:58 AM
It's a bit puzzling, but as objective as you may have attempted, it appears to make Korea the transgressor. Korea has been waiting and waiting to bring these historical issues to the global attention. Yet, this article clearly doesn't even mention the real issue. Instead, you address Japan as the victim and Korea the transgressor. Why don't you mention the one historical aspect that keeps bringing the tensions high in the North East Asia region? Wouldn't that be more reflective of accurate reporting. Then again, as the publishing name states, it's the Voice of America. Most North East Asian region understands that America generally advocates on Japan's behalf. If you wish to refute these claims, then please start shedding light to what really happened in the past.

Here are some interesting facts you should notate. The territory in dispute was determined not by the bilateral countries, but by the United States. In addition, this island was originally part of Korea's territory prior to Japan's annexation. The contract clearly stipulates to unconditionally return all of Korea's territory.And lastly, the millions of civilians massacred, sexual bondage, and human genetic experiments were apparently ignored... Continual ignorance to these outstanding issues will eventually further marginalize U.S. interests in the North East region.

So as a journalist, if this article is of U.S. interests then think of a more balanced report.
In Response

by: HHI from: US
August 23, 2012 8:11 PM
It's been an issue hardly squared between the two nations... but I'm telling you this had never been a CRITICAL conflict that would mess up their economical partnarship or cultural intraction. Now why this?? Because of the enemy of Japanese and the shame of Korean. Lee Myon-Bak. He has messed up all the people's efforts just by trigering a chain of naive conflicts in the worst occasion just for his upcoming election. Please Korean people be aware that tehre should be much smarter Korean leaders to guide your nation.
In Response

by: Doggyhorse from: Japan
August 23, 2012 7:43 PM
I think this article of voa is fairly objective. I agree to the comments of tmt and Summer completely as they are historically correct. Korea should go to the international court with Japan if they think their occupation of the disputed island rightfully belong to them. Why hesitate to do so? Comfort women's issue had been settled with compensations made. Because of the recent incident, I came to dislike Koreans. I also came to think more that Japan should be more assertive not to be just bring attacked by other neighboring nations.
In Response

by: James from: GZ
August 23, 2012 4:14 PM
Summer,NO sexual bondage? what, are you eight? See, Japanese never make a sincere apology to neighbors for what they had done in World War II.
In Response

by: tmt from: Japan
August 23, 2012 1:20 PM
>The largely uninhabited islets have been under effective South Korean control since the end of Japanese colonial rule after World War II.
this sentence is not correct. Syngman Rhee invaded the islands after he declared "Syngman Rhee Line" in 1952 know as "Peace Line" in south korea.
the U.S. government maintained that the one-sided declaration of the Syngman Rhee Line was illegal under international law.
In Response

by: Sing from: USA
August 23, 2012 11:43 AM
Summer in Japan how old are you? How you can say that there is no evidence of sex slaves ( I do not call them comfort women just a beautification of a war crimes). If they have compensated all the victims how is still today they are seeking compensation is the wrong words it should be restitutions for the imperialist Japs. History cannot be changed by beautiful words and lies.
In Response

by: Summer from: Tokyo
August 23, 2012 9:59 AM
I think this article is fair.

One thing that I'd like to mention is, that there were confort women in Japanese army but NO sexual bondage!
Those confort women had highly paid and free to quit their job, not forced by Japanese army. Moreover, Japan already had paid huge compensation for confort women in 1965. Also Japan raised the Asian Women Fund for them.

There's no reliable evidence concerns "forced" sexial slaves. I feel that Korean's intend to get anther compensation for human rights claim, which can get world's sympathy easily.

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