Dokdo - Takeshima are a group of small islets located in the waters between
South Korean lawmakers visit islands disputed with Japan
Agence France-Presse in Seoul
A group of South Korean lawmakers on Tuesday visited an isolated set of islands at the heart of a territorial dispute with Japan – a move likely to stoke tensions with Tokyo still more.
Seventeen members of the parliamentary National Defence Committee flew to the Dokdo islands (known as Takeshima in Japan) on military helicopters for a day-long visit, an aide to committee member Han Ki-Ho said.
The trip – labelled a government inspection session – was aimed at checking security measures around the islands guarded by the South’s coastguard, the aide said.
On Monday, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Osamu Fujimura had called on the Seoul MPs to cancel their visit, warning it would jeopardise bilateral ties.
The islands, which lie between the two countries, are controlled by South Korea but claimed by both nations.
Their long-standing row over ownership boiled over in August when South Korean President Lee Myung-bak made a surprise visit to the islets.
Tokyo said the trip – the first ever by a South Korean president – was deliberately provocative.
Seoul insists Tokyo’s claim is erroneously founded in its 1910-45 colonial rule over the Korean peninsula.
Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Osamu Fujimura on Monday called for the Seoul lawmakers to cancel the planned trip, warning that the visit would jeopardise bilateral ties.
Lee said his visit was designed to press Japan to settle lingering colonial-era grievances, including the issue of Korean women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops during the second world war.
Japan is embroiled in a separate row with China over a different set of disputed islands in the East China Sea, which are also claimed by Taiwan.