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(LEAD) Foreign ministry calls in Japanese diplomat over renewed Dokdo claims in defense white paper

All News 11:50 July 14, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS photo, foreign ministry spokesperson's comment in paras 6-8, 10)
By Kim Seung-yeon

SEOUL, July 14 (Yonhap) -- The foreign ministry called in a senior Japanese diplomat Tuesday to lodge a protest after Tokyo renewed its claims to South Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo in its latest defense white paper.

Kim Jung-han, director general for Asia and Pacific affairs at Seoul's foreign ministry, summoned Hirohisa Soma, a senior official from the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, to express regret over the annual report and urge Tokyo to withdraw the claims.

Soma entered the ministry building at about 11 a.m., without taking questions from reporters.

The defense white paper, approved by Japan's Cabinet earlier in the day, describes the issue of Dokdo as a matter that "remains unresolved," along with its long-standing territorial dispute with Russia over the Kuril Islands.

Regarding North Korea's nuclear threats, the policy report used stronger terms to explicitly state that Pyongyang is believed to be capable of attacking Tokyo with nuclear-tipped missiles.

Hirohisa Soma, a senior diplomat from the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, arrives at Seoul's foreign ministry on July 14, 2020, after being called in over Japan's renewed territorial claims to South Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo in its latest defense white paper. (Yonhap)

The foreign ministry in Seoul urged Japan to immediately withdraw its claims to Dokdo.

"We strongly protest that Japan has repeatedly laid unjust territorial claims to Dokdo, which is clearly our inherent territory, historically, geographically and by international law, and we urge for an immediate retraction of the claims," ministry spokesperson Kim In-chul said in a commentary.

"Japan should realize that repeating its unjust and absurd claims to Dokdo does nothing to help the bilateral relations between South Korea and Japan. Our government makes it clear once again that the claims by the Japanese government cannot affect our sovereignty over Dokdo and that we will sternly act against any provocation on the islets," he said.

Tokyo has laid claims to Dokdo, known as Takeshima in Japan, every year in its diplomatic blue book and defense white paper since 2005, causing tensions with Seoul.

Japan's renewed claims to the islets come at a time when their bilateral ties remain badly frayed over compensating Korean forced labor victims and Tokyo's export curbs on Seoul.

South Korea rejects the claims because the country regained independence from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule and reclaimed sovereignty over its territory, including Dokdo and many other islands around the Korean Peninsula.

Since 1954, South Korea has stationed a small police detachment on Dokdo.

This image, captured July 14, 2020, from Japan's 2020 defense white paper, shows Dokdo, circled in red as Takeshima in Japanese, the name Japan uses for the islets. (Yonhap)


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