South Korean, Japanese Island Dispute Heats Up

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SEOUL, July 29 (UPI) — South Korea’s government told Japan’s ambassador Friday it will ban a visit by Japanese lawmakers to an island near the East Sea islets claimed by Seoul.

South Korea’s Yonhap News agency reported the action was in response to plans by four lawmakers from Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party for a visit next week at Ulleung Island near the Dokdo islets, which South Korean officials say is an attempt to reassert Japan’s claims to the islets.

South Korea calls the islets Dokdo and Japan calls them Takeshima. The islets are administered by South Korea.

Yonhap said a Japanese daily reported the LDP leadership will permit the visit because it would be personal, unconnected with the party.

South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Jae-shin presented a formal note to Japanese Ambassador Masatoshi Muto, protesting the visit, Yonhap reported.

“We also conveyed our stance that their safety cannot be guaranteed and their visit will be of no help to the development of bilateral relations,” a South Korean Foreign Ministry official was quoted as saying.

The report said the planned visit has stirred public anger in South Korea.

The report, quoting a diplomatic source, said the Japanese lawmakers plan to first arrive in Seoul before proceeding to the Ulleung Island. South Korean officials said their entry into South Korea would be denied.

Many South Koreans hold bitter memories of Japan’s colonial rule of Korea from 1910-45 and consider the Dokdo issue part of that history.

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