Noda, ministers to discuss more countermeasures against South Korea this week amid territorial row

Kyodo

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and some of his Cabinet ministers will meet Tuesday to discuss countermeasures against South Korea following President Lee Myung Bak’s recent visit to the disputed Takeshima Islands and his controversial remarks about the Emperor, government sources said Saturday.

The Cabinet Secretariat has instructed all ministries and government agencies to report any meetings, policies and projects involving South Korea by Monday, the sources said.

The government has apparently decided that additional countermeasures may be necessary since South Korea rejected Japan’s proposal that the decades-old territorial dispute over the Sea of Japan islets be resolved at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

The measures will focus primarily on political and economic issues, and cultural exchanges will continue as normal, according to the sources.

Steps likely to be discussed by Noda and his ministers include suspending bilateral meetings involving senior bureaucrats or higher-ranking officials and invitations to South Korean government officials to visit Japan for the time being, the sources said.

Government officials already have hinted at some possible measures. Finance Minister Jun Azumi, for instance, has said Tokyo may scale down a bilateral currency swap agreement and that he plans to cancel annual talks between the two countries’ finance officials scheduled for later this month in Seoul.

The move is a response to Lee’s trip to the South Korean-administered isles on Aug. 10, making him the South’s first president to visit them. Japan has long maintained the islands, called Dokdo by Seoul, are part of its sovereign territory.

The government was also angered by Lee’s demand for an apology from Emperor Akihito for Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula in the event that he decides to visit South Korea.