News / Asia

    South Korean President Visits Islets Disputed with Japan

    South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, right, talks with police officer Yoon Jang-soo as Lee visits islands called Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan, Aug. 10, 2012.
    South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, right, talks with police officer Yoon Jang-soo as Lee visits islands called Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan, Aug. 10, 2012.
    Jason Strother
    SEOUL — South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has visited a set of disputed islets in the sea between Japan and Korea, causing a diplomatic rift between the two nations.
     
    Lee Myung-bak is the first South Korean leader to visit the rocky outcrops, called Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese.  The islets have been at the center of a dispute between the two nations since the end of Japan’s colonization of the Korean peninsula in 1945.  


    ​A senior researcher at the Korean government-funded Northeast Asian History Foundation, Lee Myong-chan, says the president’s trip was intended to counter Japanese claims.   
     
    He says, President Lee’s visit expresses Korea's strong determination on Dokdo and also sends a strong message to Japan that Korea will not accept any provocation anymore. He says he thinks Lee did what he had to do as a head of the nation.
     
    The Dokdo-Takeshima Islands

    • Known as Dokdo in Korean and as Takeshima in Japan
    • Claimed by Japan and South Korea
    • Occupied by South Korea since 1954
    • Located between the two countries in fish-rich waters
    • Uninhabited except for a South Korean Coast Guard outpost and an elderly couple
    • Less than 200,000 square meters in size
    Both countries say they maintain legal jurisdiction over the rocks, which are surrounded by rich fishing waters and untapped natural resources.  
     
    President Lee’s trip to the disputed territory was met with criticism in Tokyo.  
     
    Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba questioned why President Lee had to make the trip now and called it utterly unacceptable.  He says Tokyo has temporarily recalled its ambassador in South Korea in protest.  
     
    In Seoul, Lee’s ruling party applauded his visit to the rocks, calling it a meaningful move to defend South Korea’s territory.
     
    However the main opposition party responded by declaring that the trip was just a publicity stunt and was aimed at deflecting criticism of Lee’s administration.
     
    President Lee’s approval rating is low as he nears the end of his single term in office next March.  And some observers say his visit to the islet Friday is a win-win tactic that might boost his popularity.

    “It's a perfect strategic move," said Jasper Kim heads the Asia-Pacific Global Research Group in Seoul.  "For legacy, because he is in effect a lame duck president, he wants to be remembered at least as a patriotic president”  
     
    Kim adds that President Lee might also hope that this trip will help South Koreans forget about a bribery scandal involving his brother.

    You May Like

    Leaving Scalia Replacement to 2017 Would Mean Unusually Long Vacancy

    History of high court shows Obama not in unique situation during final year of presidency

    US Fact Checkers Debunk Some Republican Presidential Candidate Claims 

    Slim evidence for several claims made by Republican presidential candidates at their last debate ahead of next Saturday's key nominating election in South Carolina

    Uganda Presidential Debate a Small Victory for Democracy

    In homes and bars across country, Ugandans were fixated on their screens as eight political candidates running for president took part in national debate

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    August 13, 2012 12:18 AM
    It is clear which country has justice when histry of the islets is reflected on. The islets were discovered by a Japanese shipping owner, Jinkichi Oyama, in seventeenth century and had been used as a transit point by Japanese transporting firms admitted by Tokugawa shogunate in Edo era. In ninteen ou-five, the ilets were legally included in Shimane prefecture nearlest the islets of body of Japan and governed by Japan with the acknowledgment of international society. After the WWII for several years, these islets were placed out of Japanese power like Okinawa by GHQ. Legal bounderies between Japan and neighbouring countiries after WWII was determined by Treaty of San Furancisco, Treaty of peace with Japan, in ninteen fifity-two. This treaty designated the deniance of the S-Korea's claim of possession rights of the islets. So ex-S-Korea's president, Lhee suddenly lined a military borderline including the Islets with its one-sided interest just three months before the activeness of San Flancisco treaty. So this borderline is not accepted in a view of international law. Our Japanese government sometimes claimed our ownership of the Islets to international cout of justice. But disappoingly Korea never acknouledge even to challenge the trial. If Korea wants to show its properness across the world, she should attend the trial and states its justice and persuade internatonal opinion. In addision, Lhee's line was canceled between two countries as the new basic treaty between Japan and S-Kores was ratified in nineteen shixty-five.

    by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
    August 11, 2012 10:01 AM
    why Japan has conflicts with all its neighbours. Hasn't it learned enough lessons from the WWII? Guess it wants to taste the Nuke again since its been more than 50 years it did last time.
    In Response

    by: Observer from: US
    August 13, 2012 1:11 PM
    The Japanese, unfortunately, never had to go through a reconstruction of its politics similar to the Germans' after the war. The US and the USSR became embroiled in competition across the strait in Korea instead. The emperor was excused of all responsibility, and the US quickly took the country in as an ally against communist expansion in Asia. What was more important was that Japan stayed anti-Communist (and people like Yoshida Shigeru could prevail, fully tainted with pre-defeat establishment policies). That it still retains the imperial system, that it still retains the battle flag of the imperial forces, and that it still clings to imperial ambitions is a tragedy for Asia. The annexation of an island in 1905 that led to the annexation of a country from which it could invade Manchuria, and in 1937, invade China proper, that it can lay claims to that island again is beyond the pale. It must stop. Japan must be stopped. They've learned nothing. And they are growing aggressive again, all under the nuclear umbrella of the US.
    In Response

    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    August 13, 2012 12:31 AM
    Hi, Jonathan, may I ask your homeland ? If you are Chinese-someone, could you count the number of conflicts China is now disputing with neighbouring countries?
    In Response

    by: Samurai from: Japan
    August 12, 2012 9:12 AM
    Japan is not willingly conflicting with countries concerned. It is fighting for laws (justice) in order to protect or get back its inherent territories which have been deprived while it is suffering its death agony. Jonathan Huang, you Chinese beast! My two relatives were killed by the atomic bomb. Your expression "taste the Nuke again" is a term growled by a Chinese paper beast that was running away from Japanese army during W.W.II.

    by: Jason from: USA
    August 11, 2012 12:40 AM
    The red box on the map points to the wrong island. Liancourt Rocks are located farther East. Please do your research first.
    In Response

    by: Kobayashi from: Japan
    August 16, 2012 9:34 AM
    You're right. The map gives me a wrong impression that the island is much closer to S.Korea than it is to Japan.

    by: Samurai from: Japan
    August 10, 2012 9:13 AM
    The lame duck President Lee is gonna break the close friendship relation between Japan and S. Korea, just for clingin to his office. Japan and Korea should tie up with each other to deal with China, N. Korea, and Russia; otherise, no bright future comes to both countries.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    August 10, 2012 11:00 AM
    Haha voa has learned to select the post as well, what difference do you have from the official media in china?
    In Response

    by: Tiancheng from: China
    August 10, 2012 10:56 AM
    Why do Japanese always tend to get China involved in every dispute you have with other countries!!! Japanese always act so sensitive thinking that all of its neigbhours ready to invade her! As a result you always think it wise to grab any territory you can get first and attack any look-like enemy first. Japanese never notice that they always push their potential friends into th position against them

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Ugandai
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    February 12, 2016 9:29 PM
    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video Refugees in Kenya Vie to Compete in Rio Olympics

    In Kenya, refugees from other African nations are training at a special camp and competing for a limited number of slots in this year's Rio Olympics under the flag of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Ngong, this is a first in Olympic history.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.