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Japan's Defense Report Claims Dokdo as Japanese Territory, Korea Strongly Protests: A Hot August
By Sohn Je-min
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Japan's Cabinet council announced in the 2012 Defense White Papers it adopted on July 31 that, "The territorial disputes surrounding Japan's inherent territory of the Northern Territories and Takeshima (竹島, the Japanese name for Dokdo) remain unsettled." This is a repeat of what the defense white papers have stated since 2005.

In response to this year's papers, the Korean government expressed strong opposition claiming that Japan should not expect a progressive Korea-Japan military relationship such as the signing of a military pact unless they give up their claims on Dokdo.

Cho Tae-young, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, announced in a statement, "The government strongly protests to the fact that the 2012 Defense White Papers of Japan claim Dokdo, which is clearly the inherent territory of Korea historically, geographically and according to domestic law, as Japanese territory."

The Ministry of Defense stated, "We urge the Japanese government to realize that there can be no forward-looking Korea-Japan military relations unless they give up their territorial claims on Dokdo. We will firmly deal with attempts of any form to violate our dominion over Dokdo." The "forward-looking Korea-Japan military relations" include the military pact.

Dokdo.



The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Ministry of Defense summoned a deputy mission chief and a defense attache respectively to express our regrets and deliver a note verbale (an official diplomatic letter) stating our government's opposing position.

This is the first time our government has responded to Japan's territorial claims on Dokdo in their defense papers with a statement by the foreign ministry spokesperson, which is the highest level of protest.

In 2011, the government responded with a comment by the ministry spokesperson, which is a step below the statement, and in 2010--the centennial anniversary of Japan's annexation of Korea--when the atmosphere of both countries was fairly good, the government responded with an even weaker stance, a comment by an official.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade official said, "Recently, Japan has responded aggressively to the Dokdo issue (so we have stepped up on our level of response)."

With the publication of the defense white papers, the waves of conflict between Korea and Japan are expected to rise higher than ever before this August. President Lee Myung-bak is expected to demand a sincere reflection on past issues such as the comfort women in his August 15 speech.

Thirty people including members of the North Gyeongsang Provincial Assembly and civic groups in the North Gyeongsang region stand before the Japanese Embassy on April 12 to condemn Japan's Dokdo disseizin. Protesters are demanding Japan to immediately stop its territorial claims on Dokdo and its distortion of history in their textbooks. Kim Ki-nam



Also August 30 will mark a year since the Constitutional Court decided that the government should look into the military comfort women and nuclear bomb victims issue to see if they were settled according to the Korea-Japan Claims Agreement.

The Korean government suggested bilateral discussions on the interpretation of the Claims Agreement to Japan, but Japan has not responded for almost a year. Instead, in April, Japan sounded their compromise on providing compensation, which involved the national finance of Japan, but the Korean government opposed insisting that Japan should recognize the legal responsibility of the state; thus putting a stop to all discussions.

Japan's Prime Minister, Noda Yoshihiko, showed a will to improve Korea-Japan relations after his inauguration last September, but recently he plainly revealed his conservative colors by promoting the right of collective self-defense.

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