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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on May 31)

Editorials from Korean dailies 06:57 May 31, 2021

Shameless Japan
Tokyo should delete Dokdo from its Olympic map

Japan has become the target of growing criticism for its description of Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo as its territory on the homepage of the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato has refused to accept Korea's demand that Dokdo be deleted from its Olympic map. During a press conference Friday, Kato, who is also Japanese government's top spokesman, repeated Japan's claim that Takeshima, the Japanese name for Dokdo, is its own territory based on historical fact.

Though expected, Japan's move is very regrettable, as it will surely fan anti-Japan sentiment here and prompt calls for a boycott of the Tokyo Summer Olympics, set to start July 23. Kato's statement followed former Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon's threat of an Olympic boycott unless Japan corrects the Olympic map.

Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong said that the ministry lodged a strong protest to Japan over the matter. "We will definitely not tolerate (Japan's) wrong behavior at any rate," Chung said during a meeting of the National Assembly Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee Friday. Another former prime minister, Chung Se-kyun, also proposed skipping the Olympics, should Japan fail to correct the map. Both Lee and Chung are prospective presidential aspirants of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea.

Without a doubt, Dokdo is Korea's territory in terms of geography, history and international law based on diverse evidence. Given this fact, Japan deserves criticism from Korea and the international community for having included Dokdo on its Olympic map. All countries should refrain from making political appeals before and during the Olympics, as it is a global sports festival. It is indeed an intolerable political act for Japan to claim Korea's territory Dokdo as its own.

Earlier during the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, Japan protested against the Korean Unification flag ― which includes Dokdo ― and Korea attended the Olympics with a flag not including Dokdo, at the request of the International Olympic Organization (IOC). Korea accepted the IOC's recommendation out of respect for the values of the Olympic spirit. Against this backdrop, we call Japan shameless for including Dokdo on its Olympic map. Japan should immediately remove Dokdo from the map. The IOC, for its part, should strongly request that Japan correct the map. It should not sit idly by, merely passing the buck to the organizing committee.

There have already been calls for boycotts of the Olympics due to the surging COVID-19 pandemic in Japan, coupled with its economic retaliation against Korea. Despite these calls, Korea has decided to participate in the Tokyo Olympics with respect to the Olympic value of promoting harmony for all global citizens.

Yet, Japan has failed to come up with reciprocal steps, only attempting to make the most of the Olympics as a chance to press for its own territorial ambitions. Unless Japan corrects the map, anger among the Korean people will likely continue to grow further. It is doubtful that Japan will be able to host the Olympics successfully without even getting the support of its nearest neighbor.

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