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(LEAD) S. Korea slams Japan's diplomatic bluebook laying claim to Dokdo

All Headlines 16:12 April 06, 2010

(ATTN: RECASTS lead with summoning of deputy chief of Japanese mission in Seoul; UPDATES with remarks from a foreign ministry spokesman, minor changes)
By Byun Duk-kun

SEOUL, April 6 (Yonhap) -- Seoul's foreign ministry summoned a Japanese diplomat Tuesday to protest Japan's latest diplomatic bluebook that reassert Tokyo's territorial claims to Dokdo, a set of Korean islets in the East Sea.

Officials said the ministry delivered a "note verbale," a diplomatic document unsigned but more formal than a verbal complaint, to Reiichiro Takahashi, deputy chief of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.

Japan's diplomatic bluebook, an annual report of Japan's foreign policy and activities, claimed that Dokdo is Japanese territory historically and under international law. The book was approved by Japan's Diet earlier Tuesday.

"We express our deep regrets as it runs against the desire and hope of many sensible and intellectual people of the two countries to begin a new 100 years of relations between the two in the year that marks the 100th anniversary of Japan's forced annexation of Korea," foreign ministry spokesman Kim Young-sun said.

Japan has long claimed ownership of Dokdo since it first described the set of rocky outcroppings as its territory in its 1963 diplomatic bluebook. But officials here said this year's diplomatic paper will likely do more damage to bilateral ties as the two sides mark the 100th anniversary of the start of Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea.

Tokyo has sometimes omitted its claims Dokdo, as it did in 2002 and 2007, from the bluebook when the issue put a strain on Korea-Japan relations.

"(The book) repeats Japan's previous position on Dokdo, but we cannot accept it because it's a claim that could undermine our sovereignty over Dokdo. And we will take steps," a ministry official told reporters.

Japan's latest move is expected to prompt heated reactions here as it follows Tokyo's approval of school textbooks for elementary school students last week that said Dokdo was Japanese territory.

Seoul and Tokyo established diplomatic ties in 1965, but their relationship is often strained by what South Koreans believe are Japan's attempts to whitewash its past wrongdoings against Koreans under colonial rule.


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