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Seoul snubs Tokyo's legal move on Dokdo

Publication Date : 05-10-2012


South Korea on Thursday shrugged off news reports that Japan plans to initiate international litigation over Dokdo this month.

Nihon Keizai Shimbun of Japan reported that Tokyo is likely to unilaterally bring the case to the International Court of Justice in October as Seoul rejected its proposal for a joint filing.

“I’d like to emphasise again that Japan must not damage Korea-Japan relations and public sentiment by repeating its unjust claim to Dokdo but should make efforts for the development of the relations between the two countries by withdrawing the unjust claim,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said at a regular press briefing.

The Korean government has said it sees no need for a legal process to reaffirm its sovereignty over the easternmost islets that are its territory “based on history and international law.”

Tokyo cannot proceed with the suit because Seoul did not accept the Hague-based court’s compulsory jurisdiction when it became a United Nations member in 1991.

The plan appears intended to make Dokdo a “disputed” area before the international community rather than to retake it, given the slim chance of the case opening.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda reiterated the need for an ICJ suit during his speech at the UN General Assembly on September 26, emphasising it as a peaceful solution and the significance of the rule of law.

Seoul’s Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan dismissed the proposal two days later, calling it an “abuse” of the international litigation system.

He launched unusually stringent criticism of Noda over “double standards” that demand a trial with Seoul, but refuse to allow a separate territorial case with China over the Senkaku, or Diaoyu, islands in the East China Sea.

The increasingly bitter diplomatic row has prompted the two Asian powers to wage advertising campaigns at home and abroad in recent months, promoting their respective claims for the windswept outcrops in the East Sea.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry ran an advertisement in about 70 local newspapers last month for one week, marking its first official media blitz.

It allocated 600 million yen (US$7.6 million) for the Dokdo-related ads and promotion expenses for next year.

In reply, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry unveiled its unprecedented plan to launch a 650 million won ($583,000) ad campaign next year.

The portion is part of the agency’s 4.2 billion won Dokdo-related budget for 2013, up 81 per cent from a year before, a parliamentary document shows.

The funds will primarily be used for advertising, documentaries and other forms of publicity with major consultancies, public relations agencies and domestic and international media outlets.

The ministry is also preparing to translate its official Dokdo web site ( into 10 different languages, distribute relevant maps, books and other documents through embassies, support research programmes at leading international think tanks and host education sessions for diplomatic academies overseas.

In a separate development, singer Kim Jang-hoon and Sungshin Women’s University professor Seo Kyoung-duk placed a new ad on a digital billboard in New York City’s Times Square on Thursday, demanding a sincere apology and compensation from Tokyo for former sex slaves for its military during World War II.

The singer is known to have donated more than 4 billion won for similar ads and campaigns for Dokdo and other issues in Times Square and through foreign newspapers, broadcasters and wire services.

On August 15, a team of Koreans led by Kim completed a 220-kilometre relay swim to the islets to coincide with the country’s Liberation Day, which commemorates the 1945 end of Japan’s colonisation of the peninsula.


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