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Seoul says it can't accept Japan's 'unjust complaint' over defense white paper

All News 14:12 February 03, 2021

SEOUL, Feb. 3 (Yonhap) -- The defense ministry said Wednesday it cannot accept Japan's "unjust complaint" over Seoul's latest white paper blaming Tokyo for straining relations between the two countries with a claim to South Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo.

On Tuesday, Japan's defense ministry called in South Korea's military attache in Tokyo to complain about the 2020 white paper's statement that military cooperation between the two countries has been hampered due to Japan's continued claim to Dokdo and a Japanese surveillance plane's flight close to a South Korean warship in 2018.

"We made it clear that we cannot accept the Japanese side's unjust claim and that the contents written in the 2020 white paper are objective facts," the ministry said in a statement.

The paper, released Tuesday, also removed a description of Japan as South Korea's "partner."

In the previous 2018 defense white paper, the ministry called the two countries "geographically and culturally close neighbors and partners for cooperation toward world peace and prosperity." But this year's version only said they are "neighbors for cooperation for peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia and the world."

The omission came amid lukewarm ties between the two countries, which have been at one of their lowest ebbs over historic and diplomatic issues that have spilled over to the economic and military realms over the past several years.

Katsunobu Kato, the Japanese government's top spokesman, said Wednesday it was not in a position to comment on the change of description.

"Going forward, we will sternly and seriously respond to Japan's distortion of history, unfair claim over Dokdo and other unilateral and arbitrary measures on pending issues, while continuing to cooperate on mutual security issues for the peace and security of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia," the white paper said.

Seoul says it can't accept Japan's 'unjust complaint' over defense white paper - 1

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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