MATSUE, SHIMANE PREF. – The mayor of Matsue will visit the city’s sister city in South Korea for the first time in nearly a decade to resume exchanges that were interrupted due to a territorial dispute over a pair of islets, the Japanese city said Tuesday.
Matsue Mayor Masataka Matsuura will visit Jinju from Oct. 9 to 11 to meet his counterpart Lee Chang-hee to discuss ways of promoting exchanges, the city said, adding that Jinju accepted Matsue’s request to resume exchanges. Matsuura last visited the South Korean city in October 2007.
The Shimane Prefecture city and Jinju in the southern part of South Korea established a friendship-city agreement in 1999.
Exchanges between the two cities, however, were suspended in March 2009 amid growing antipathy in South Korea toward Japan with regard to the dispute over a pair of South Korea-controlled, Japan-claimed islets in the Sea of Japan. The islets are known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea.
Shimane Prefecture designated Feb. 22 as Takeshima Day in 2005, a century after the islets were declared Japanese territory and the prefecture incorporated them based on a Cabinet decision. In 2008, Japan’s education ministry described the islets as part of its territory in an educational document, which serves as a nonbinding teaching guidelines.
These steps caused anger in South Koreans, and eventually prompted Jinju to call off its exchanges with Matsue.