Sunday, December 27, 2009

Korea accuses Japan of aiming to claim rocks

Korea has an ongoing problem with what it perceives as Japan's refusal to own up to past aggression. Amongst other things, Korea accused Japan of sanitising history by teaching students that its forces "advanced" on the Asian mainland rather than "invading" it. A subtle difference, but important to Koreans nonetheless.   

There is also an ongoing dispute about ownership of the Dokdo rocks, a group of islets occupying 0.18745 square kilometres. The row has flared anew with Japanese hints that the ownership of Dokdo - currently administered by Korea - is open to dispute.

Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan called in Japanese Ambassador to Seoul Toshinori Shigeie to deliver a message of protest against Japan's renewed plan to teach its students about its claim to sovereignty over Korea's Dokdo islets, according to a ministry official Friday.

Earlier in the day, the government expressed regret over the move, but has yet to decide on other measures to deal with the claim, such as recalling South Korean Ambassador to Japan.

"No matter what claim Tokyo makes, our government stresses once again that there is no territorial dispute between the two sides," foreign ministry spokesman Moon Tae-young said.

The statement came hours after Japan released a teaching manual for high school teachers, which is non-binding but affects textbook publishers as well.

There is more to this dispute over useless rocks than just historical animosity, however; the area around the islets is thought to hold large reserves of gas.


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