South Korea will not agree on taking a territorial dispute with Japan concerning a group of South Korea-controlled islets in the Sea of Japan to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, South Korean Ambassador to Japan Ra Jong Yil said Wednesday.
“It is out of the question,” Ra said in a speech to the Liberal Democratic Party’s foreign policy panel.
Ra, who maintained the islets are originally territory of what is now South Korea, said the fact that Japan continuously claims the islets means Japan has yet to take a hard look at its colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.
The islets Ra was referring to are controlled by South Korea but also claimed by Japan. They are called Takeshima in Japan and Tok-do in South Korea. Japan has proposed to South Korea since 1954 that the dispute be handled by the international tribunal. But Seoul has rejected the idea.
The ICJ requires that both Japan and South Korea agree to a plan to let the tribunal judge the sovereignty of the island.
Ra also called on Japan to stop actions related to historical and territorial issues that he said offend the South Korean people, as Seoul was ready for rapprochement.
Anti-Japan sentiment flared up in South Korea after the Shimane Prefectural Assembly adopted an ordinance last month designating Feb. 22 as “Takeshima Day” in a symbolic move to renew Japan’s claim over the islets.
“South Korea thinks the issue over bilateral history has been settled and we no longer call for Japan’s apology” for the colonial rule, he told the LDP lawmakers.
Ra expressed displeasure at what he described as actions in Japan that try to “nullify” bilateral efforts aimed at overcoming the long-standing dispute over history.
He criticized Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for repeatedly visiting the war-related Yasukuni Shrine and his administration for approving junior high school textbooks that South Korea says distort Japanese wartime atrocities.
Among the textbooks angering South Korea is a civics book penned by a group of nationalist scholars that states Takeshima is “illegally occupied” by South Korea.
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