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N. Korea denounces Japan's vow to visit island near Dokdo

All Headlines 21:40 July 30, 2011

SEOUL, July 30 (Yonhap) -- North Korea denounced Saturday Japanese lawmakers' move to push ahead with their trip to a far-flung South Korean island despite a warning that they will be barred from entry into South Korea.

"The Japanese reactionaries' recent moves are serious issues not to be tolerated by the Korean nation as they revealed once again their ambition to seize Ullung Island and Tok Islets, inalienable parts of the territory of Korea," said North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), citing a statement from the Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea.

Ullung Island and Tok Islets are how North Korea refers to Ulleung Island and Dokdo, a cluster of rocky outcroppings in the East Sea.

Earlier in the day, three Japanese lawmakers said that they will travel to South Korea on Monday for a four-day trip to Ulleung Island, the closest South Korean territory to its easternmost islets of Dokdo over which Japan has frequently laid claim.

Following the announcement, South Korea immediately reaffirmed its stance that immigration officials will deny entry to the lawmakers upon their planned arrival at Gimpo Airport in western Seoul on Monday and send them back to Japan.

The North Korean media outlet also rapped South Korean authorities for taking a "passive approach" towards Japan due to fear of arousing anti-Japanese sentiment.

"It is due to the present South Korean ruling forces' servile attitude toward Japan ... that the Japanese reactionaries are set to visit the Tok Islets like their own land," KCNA said.

Japan's sovereignty claims to Dokdo have long been a key source of diplomatic friction in relations with South Korea, where many people still harbor deep anti-Japanese resentment for its brutal colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

South Korea has lodged a formal protest with the top Japanese envoy in Seoul against the planned visit and warned that the lawmakers' safety cannot be guaranteed.

In early July, Japan imposed one-month ban on the use of Korean Air flights by its diplomats in retaliation for the airline's June 16 test flight of its first Airbus A380 plane over Dokdo.

South Korea demanded Japan immediately withdraw the measure, but Tokyo has refused to do so.


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