SEOUL, July 29 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea issued a strong protest on Friday against Japan’s renewed territorial claim to its easternmost islets of Dokdo in an annual defense white paper, calling for its immediate retraction.
Earlier in the day, Tokyo adopted the security document during a Cabinet session, renewing the claim to the pair of rocky outcroppings in the East Sea in the paper for the 19th consecutive year.
“The government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) strongly protests against the Japanese government’s repeated inclusion of unjust sovereignty claims over Dokdo, which is clearly an integral part of the ROK territory historically, geographically and under international law,” Lim Soo-suk, the spokesperson of the foreign ministry, said in a statement, using South Korea’s official name.
“The ROK government urges the Japanese government to immediately withdraw such claims,” he said, adding that the claims do not and will not have any impact on South Korea’s sovereignty over Dokdo and that Seoul will respond “firmly” to any provocation over the islets.
“The Japanese government should be clearly aware that repeatedly making unjust claims to Dokdo is in no way conducive to the efforts to establish a future-oriented relationship between the ROK and Japan,” he said.
The ministries of foreign affairs and national defense called in Mondo Yamamoto, acting deputy chief of mission at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, and Kotaro Hyodo, a defense attache, to lodge a protest.
Tokyo’s latest claim to the islets came as the Yoon Suk Yeol administration has made efforts to improve ties that have long been strained by historical and territorial feuds stemming from Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
Bilateral relations took a turn for the better in March after Seoul offered to resolve a row over wartime forced labor by compensating the Korean victims without asking for contributions from Japanese firms.
The move came as the two countries have stepped up trilateral security cooperation with their shared ally, the United States, against evolving military threats from North Korea.
In an apparent shift in tone, the latest white paper included positive assessments of South Korea, noting the tripartite cooperation with Washington.
Last month, the three countries’ defense chiefs agreed to operate a system to share North Korean missile warning data in real time by the end of this year as they met in Singapore on the sidelines of a regional security forum.