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Seoul ups pressure on Japan over Dokdo, colonial atrocities
Publication Date : 29-09-2012
Seoul has ratcheted up pressure on Japan to give up its claim over Korea’s easternmost islets of Dokdo and properly recognise its colonial atrocities during the UN General Assembly in New York this week.
Korea’s Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan on Thursday reiterated Seoul’s concern over Tokyo’s unapologetic stance during his meeting with Japan’s Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba on the sidelines of the assembly.
“We delivered our stance on pending issues concerning (Japan’s) perception of history and its past,” Seoul officials said.
Kim also expressed regret over Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s remarks over Dokdo a day earlier.
At the assembly, Noda renewed Tokyo’s proposal to bring the Dokdo spat to the International Court of Justice, arguing that the issue should be resolved “according to the rule of law”.
Seoul’s position is that the islets under Korea’s effective control are not in dispute. It has spurned the litigation proposal as it believes Tokyo is trying to make the row an international dispute.
Seoul has long stressed that public sentiment in Korea is crucial for the two to move forward for a future-oriented relationship, and that to make it favourable, there should be recognition of the archipelago state’s wartime atrocities.
In a meeting with reporters, Kim said that Japan appears to have a double standard as it seeks a legal solution over Dokdo while not making any litigation proposal over the group of the islands in the East China Sea, which China and Taiwan also claim.
“Our stance that we will not refer the case to a third party (namely the ICJ) and our position that the islets are not in dispute … these basic positions will never change,” Kim told reporters.
“Japan has a double standard and is not consistent.”
Kim also criticised Japan for not recognising its “national, legal” responsibility for the Korean victims forced into sexual slavery during World War II. President Lee has defined the issue as a broader wartime human rights issue beyond the bilateral relationship.
“This (Japanese politicians’ unapologetic stance) is, after all, a matter of whether Japan gives correct historical education,” he said.
In a separate interview with the Associated Press, Kim underscored that Koreans at large take Tokyo’s claim to Dokdo as “another attempt at invading the country.” Japan colonised the Korean Peninsula from 1910-1945.
“So that’s the Korean sentiment and I hope that the Japanese government understands this,” he said.
“We have to try to overcome these differences. It’s up to the Japanese attitude. While they maintain their attitude ... there should be some limit on the scope of cooperation.”
At the assembly, the foreign ministers of Korea, the US and Japan were set to meet to discuss pending issues. The three-way meeting was the first since they met in Cambodia on the sidelines of the Asean Regional Forum in July.
Hosted by the US, the trilateral meeting was expected to discuss their cooperation to deal with peninsular and regional issues including North Korean nuclear issues.
The long-festering territorial row, which was rekindled after President Lee Myung-bak made a landmark visit to Dokdo in August, has apparently unnerved Washington as the US has been seeking trilateral cooperation to better deal with the changing security environment in Northeast Asia.
Yesterday, Foreign Minister Kim was also to deliver a keynote speech at the assembly where he is expected to touch on the wartime human rights rather than directly mentioning Korean victims.
Amid the rising conservative tide in Japanese politics, Tokyo is expected to have a tougher stance over territorial issues including one with China.
Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party was picked on Wednesday as the conservative party’s chief, raising the possibility of his retaking the country’s premiership.
The security hawk has mentioned that he would visit the Yasukuni Shrine honouring war criminals and seek to recognise the country’s right of collective defence.