National / Politics

South Korea protests Japan's claim to islets, summons diplomats

Kyodo

South Korea on Tuesday lodged a strong protest after Japan reiterated its claim to sovereignty over a pair of South Korean-controlled islets in its annual defense report, summoning a Japanese defense attache and minister.

The move to summon Koichi Mizushima, minister at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, as well as a defense attache at the embassy, came after the release of the Defense Ministry’s white paper, which stated Japan’s claim to the islets.

The dispute over ownership of the pair of rocky islets in the Sea of Japan, known as Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan, remains a source of bilateral friction.

“The Japanese government should immediately halt its futile claim over Dokdo and strive to develop a future-oriented and mature partnership between South Korea and Japan while squarely looking at history,” South Korea’s Foreign Ministry quoted one of its officials as saying to the defense attache.

Seoul issued a statement saying the South Korean government “strongly protests against the Japanese government’s reassertion of an unjust territorial claim over Dokdo in its defense white paper and calls for an immediate retraction.”

The ministry said it will “sternly respond” to any provocative action by Japan over Dokdo, which it said belongs to South Korea historically, geographically and in terms of international law.

In recent years, South Korea has protested each time Japan has pressed its claim in its defense white paper.