SEOUL/TOKYO – Seoul will retaliate if Tokyo goes ahead with its plan to send a senior official to an event Friday held by Shimane Prefecture to promote Japan’s claim to a pair of South Korea-controlled islets, the South’s foreign ministry warned Thursday.
“It’s greatly regrettable that Japan’s Shimane Prefecture hosts the event and a central government official will attend it,” South Korean foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai Young told reporters during a regular briefing, according to Yonhap News Agency.
South Korea has effectively held the islets, which it calls Dokdo, since just after the war. Japan refers to the rocky outcroppings as Takeshima, which it annexed in the early 20th century and placed under the jurisdiction of Shimane Prefecture.
“Japan ought not to conduct such (behavior if it hopes) to promote friendship between Seoul and Tokyo,” Cho added, warning South Korea will take “appropriate measures” if Japan pushes ahead with its plan, without elaborating.
The Japanese government said Wednesday it will send Aiko Shimajiri, a parliamentary secretary for the Cabinet Office, to the event. He would be the first lawmaker holding one of the top three posts in a government ministry or agency to attend since the annual ceremonies commenced in 2006.
Although lawmakers have attended in the past, a senior Tokyo government official has never been sent.
In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said there would be no change in the government’s plan to send Shimajiri despite South Korea’s warning, based on the view that the islets are Japanese territory.
The islets lie almost midway between South Korea and Japan in the Sea of Japan.