A news of Dokdo (Tokdo)


Maps, Documents Describe Tokto as Korea's Territory


A map drawn by Japanese geographer Shihei Hayashi in 1785 shows Ullungdo and Tokto as one big island (in the red dotted circle).  

A map made by Britain and sent to the U.S. on April 7, 1951. It indicate that before the signing of the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951, the U.S. State Department considered Tokto Korean territory.

U.S. documents and a newly discovered Japanese map indicate that Korea's easternmost islets of Tokto were recognized as part of Korea at least from the 18th century.

Professor Kim Moon-gil of Pusan University of Foreign Studies on Sunday revealed a 220-year-old map of the Korean Peninsula produced by Japanese geographer Shihei Hayashi in 1785.

The map described Ullungdo and Tokto as one large island and marked the sea around Ullungdo as the ``East Sea,'' not the ``Sea of Japan.''

Other documents disclosed by Mokpo National University's Professor Jung Byung-joon indicate that before the signing of the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951, the U.S. State Department considered Tokto Korean territory.

Jung found two documents named ``The Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands in Draft Japanese Peace Treaty'' in the department's archives.

The documents were written on July 13 and 16, 1951, before the victors in World War II, led by the United States and Britain, completed the final draft of the treaty on Aug. 13. It was signed by Japan on Sept. 8.

The documents contained replies from S.W. Boggs, geographer at the Office of Intelligence and Research of the State Department, to requests from Robert Fearey, special assistant to the Director of the Office of Northeast Asian Affairs, about areas that might provoke territorial disputes after the treaty.

In addition to Tokto, Fearey included the Paracel Islands south of Hainan Island and the Spratly Islands in South China Sea, which are currently claimed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Boggs said the treaty should include a reference to Korea's sovereignty over the Tokto islets.

In his reply of July 13, Boggs said: ``It may therefore be advisable to name them specifically in the draft treaty, in some such form as the following (Article 2): (a) Japan, recognizing the independence of Korea, renounces all right, title and claim to Korea, including the islands of Quelpart, Port Hamilton, Dagelet, and Liancourt Rocks.''

Quelpart was the western name for Cheju Island at the time, while Port Hamilton referred to Komundo Island, Dagelet to Ullungdo, and the Liancourt Rocks to Tokto.

However, in his July 16 reply, Boggs said: ``It should be noted that while there is a Korean name for Dagelet, none exists for the Liancourt Rocks and they are not shown in maps made in Korea.''

``If it is decided to give them to Korea, it would be necessary only to add ``and Liancourt Rocks'' at the end of Art. 2, par. (a),'' he wrote.

Jung said Boggs had recognized Korea's sovereignty over Tokto in the first document. ``But in the second document, he seems to have been misled by false information from a pamphlet made by Japan in June 1947,'' Jung explained.

The professor also disclosed pamphlets made by Japan in 1946-1947 and distributed to allied forces. Entitled ``Minor Islands Adjacent to Japan Proper,'' the pamphlet insisted Tokto and Ullungdo were Japanese territory.

The final version of the San Francisco Peace Treaty omitted any reference to Tokto. It also did not contain a map indicating the territories of Korea and Japan.

Moreover, William Sebald, then U.S. ambassador to Japan and General MacArthur's adviser, claimed Tokto should be recognized as Japanese.

But among the U.S. records, Jung has also found a map made by Britain and sent to the U.S. on April 7, 1951. It was the only map used in preparations for the treaty and clearly indicates Tokto as belonging to Korea.

By Kim Rahn / Staff Reporter

(Korea Times 2005-2-27)

Textbook task force set to meet

With tension mounting between Korea and Japan over another distorted history textbook, a government task force will take up the long-running dispute here tomorrow.

The pan-government taskforce, headed by Vice Education Minister Kim Young-sik, will hold its first session at the central government complex in downtown Seoul, the Education Ministry said yesterday.

The 16-member troubleshooting team, comprising senior officials from various government branches including the Presidential Office, foreign, defense and education ministries, will look at countermeasures to Japan`s planned publication of a new middle school history textbook that whitewashes its wartime atrocities and contains distortions.

Park Joon-woo, director-general of Asia-Pacific Affairs Bureau at the Foreign Ministry will act as spokesman for the task force.

"The first meeting will focus on what strict measures the government will take when Tokyo announces the result of its review next month to officially introduce the textbook," a Foreign Ministry official said. "The task force will pressure Japan for self-action to correct the distorted contents of its history book." The ruling and opposition parties are also calling for the government to take firm and strong action against Japan, not only on the history textbook but on the renewed row over the Dokdo islets as well.

The Uri party yesterday warned that Tokyo`s history distortion will "hinder future-oriented Korea-Japan relations" and added that all Northeast Asian nations, including North Korea, need to join in cooperative countermeasures to straighten out the facts.

The latest flare-up is over the 2005 revised edition of the textbook, which includes a separate chapter called "Japan Helping Korea`s Modernization," as well as two other fresh distortions. Tokyo is set to decide on the new textbook early next month.

The contents of the Japanese middle school history textbook - to be published with the support of a right-wing nationalist scholars` group known as the "Society for Composing a New Textbook on History" - severely distorts and whitewashes Japan`s 1910-1945 colonial rule of Korea.

Seoul and Tokyo were first locked in a heated row over textbooks in 2001 when Japan`s education authorities approved a controversial middle school history book that the Korean government said glorified and rationalized Japan`s colonial rule and World War II wrongdoings.

But analysts here said the new version is far worse than the one issued four years ago. Pointing out that it omits references to violent parts of Japan`s history, they said the book justifies wars launched by modern Japan as wars to liberate Asia and help modernize Korea.

They said one of the biggest problems with the new textbook is that it doesn`t mention the aggressions, while some references to these were actually contained in the 2001 version.

The Foreign Ministry here expressed regret over the textbook, saying it is still based on a self-centered interpretation of history.

The latest textbook row coupled with Japan`s renewed claims to the sovereignty of Dokdo islet has heightened anti-Japanese sentiment considerably over the past few days.

The government is also looking into countermeasures in case Japan`s Shimane Prefecture does push through with passage of a bill Wednesday to designate Feb. 22 as "Takeshima Day." Takeshima is the Japanese name for the Dokdo islets in the East Sea.

Foreign Ministry officials said they believe the Dokdo issue is the priority. It comes as the two countries are observing Korea-Japan Friendship Year 2005 to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties.

Some top Japanese officials have urged the Shimane government to put off its plan to designate a special day for the Dokdo islets, fearing that the move could derail diplomatic efforts to commemorate the anniversary.

But the Japanese government itself is seemingly taking a back seat on the issue. It has said it doesn`t have much say in the bill`s passage since the matter is up to the regional government.

One well-known Japanese geography book, the "Great Japan Geographical Dictionary" written by Dr. Yoshida Togo (1864-1918) at the beginning of 1900, clearly states that there were three major disputes between Korea and Japan over the Dokdo islets - in 1621, 1699 and 1883.

It says that in each of the disputes, the then Japanese emperor admitted "the island is a part of Korean territory" and announced "Japanese people do not go to Takeshima because the island is a part of Korean territory."

By Choi Soung-ah

(Korea Herald 2005-3-14)

Anger Grows Over Japan's Claim to Tokto

Angry South Korean protesters staged massive rallies yesterday denouncing Japan’s claim to the Tokto islets and Japanese textbooks glorifying its past atrocities.

The rallies came as the council of the Shimane Prefecture in Japan is scheduled to approve its ordinance today to designate ``Takeshima Day’’ in an apparent bid to claim sovereignty over the islets in the East Sea.
The Tokto islets are referred to as Takeshima in Japanese.

A coalition of civic and student groups demonstrated in front of the Japanese Embassy in central Seoul to protest Japan over the two issues.

The rally followed Monday’s rallies in which two persons, identified as Park Kyung-ja, 68, and her son Cho Seung-gyu, 40, each cut off their smallest finger in protest against the recent moves by Japan.

Eight members of a conservative civic group, Hwalbindan, scuffled with police blocking them from scaling the wall of the embassy around midnight Monday.

They called for an official apology for the Japanese claim to Korea’s easternmost Tokto islets.

The protestors tried to climb the high fence of the embassy with a ladder to remove a Japanese flag and a placard marking the Korea-Japan Friendship Year 2005 between midnight and 1 a.m.

Police blocked the streets around the embassy with their riot buses while deploying hundreds of enforcement officers in the area.

Other protestors urged the Korean government to deport Japanese Ambassador Toshiyuki Takano, who angered South Koreans by saying last month that Tokto is part of Japan.

Members of the Young Korean Academy, a civic group founded in 1913 by the late independence fighter Ahn Chang-ho, demonstrated near the government complex in Kwanghwamun.

``The government must place the Japanese ambassador on a blacklist and terminate his official term here, the members said.

People have also organized campaigns to boycott Japanese products to protest against school textbooks by Japan’s Fusosha Publishing Co., which is believed to gloss over its atrocities during the 1910-45 colonial rule in the Korean Peninsula.

About 10 civic group members burned a Japanese flag and boxes containing Japanese products in front of Suwon Station, Kyonggi Province, urging people to join the boycott campaign.

Meantime, representatives of some 900 South Koreans who moved their address to the Tokto islets including Choi Jae-ik, member of Seoul Metropolitan Council, left Incheon International Airport yesterday to visit the council members of the Shimane Prefectural Council in Japan.

The delegation aims to stop the Shimane Prefecture’s attempt to pass an ordinance to designate ``Takeshima (Tokto’s Japanese name) Day,’’ which is scheduled today to call for Japan’s sovereignty over the South Korean territory.

``I will request members of the Shimane Prefectural Council to participate in a debate on the issue, which are under South Korean sovereignty without a doubt,’’ Choi said. ``If the ordinance is passed according to their plan, we will strongly protest against their move in Japan.’’

Tokto, a group of small islets, is located some 87 kilometers east of South Korea’s Ullung Island and 157 kilometers north-west of Japan’s Oki island, which belongs to Shimane Prefecture.

By Lee Jin-woo / Staff Reporter

(Korea Times 2005-3-15)

Korea says Japan`s Dokdo claim same as invasion

Seoul to seek joint efforts with Tokyo to solve controversy over history distortion

By Lee Joo-hee With public anger and tension still at a high level, the government yesterday demanded that Japan revise its attitude and warned that Korea will staunchly protect the sovereignty of the rocky Dokdo islets in the East Sea.

It declared that the Japanese claim to Dokdo was tantamount to invasion.

At the same time, Korea will seek joint efforts with Japan to solve the other heated controversy over history distortion, National Security Council head and Unification Minister Chung Dong-young told a news conference.

The presidential NSC discussed future diplomatic measures against a Japanese prefecture`s designation Wednesday of Feb. 22 as "Takeshima Day" to mark its 1905 claim to the islets - a move that ignored official Korean protests and set off angry demonstrations here outside the Japanese embassy. The Japanese know Dokdo as Takeshima.

The government said that despite the row it would continue economic and cultural exchanges in order to protect the fundamental collaborative relations "despite Japan`s degenerative actions." It also said it would not oversee individual claims for Japanese compensation for damages from its 1910-45 colonization of Korea but added that Japan should seek to earn respect from its neighbors to become a main international force.

Strains nevertheless were heightening over the accelerating Dokdo sovereignty conflict.

Both countries claim Dokdo is legally and geographically theirs. While it is a coherent concept in Korea that the nation regained sovereignty of Dokdo in 1945 upon liberation from Japan`s colonial rule, the Japanese government recently began publicizing its claim to the islets.

The South Korean government, which had repeatedly demanded that Japan block Shimane Prefecture`s controversial bill, vowed to take stern measures from now onwards.

The Korea-Japan confrontation is likely to continue next month when the Japanese government is set to complete the review of a new history textbook that is claimed to glorify Japan`s invasion to Korea.

Tension heightened yesterday over reports that a Japanese scout plane entered South Korean airspace near Dokdo on the day the Shimane Prefecture passed the Takeshima bill.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff here confirmed the plane from Japan`s Self Defense Force traveled about 10 miles near to Korea`s Air Defense Identification Zone at around 12:20 p.m. but retreated at 12:25p.m. after the Korean Air Force issued five radio warnings.

It was the third consecutive unauthorized approach by Japanese planes into Korean airspace this month.

South Korean civic groups and provincial governments continued their fervent protests.

The Independence Hall of Korea President Kim Sam-woong and about 50 employees gathered in front of the Japanese Embassy in downtown Seoul and rallied against Japan`s "distortion of history" and for "protection of Dokdo islets. The group burned mock documents of Japan`s Takeshima bill, new history textbook and Korea-Japan annexation treaty.

The Seoul Young Korea Academy and others demonstrated in front of the Independence Gate in central Seoul and declared a boycott against products by Japanese companies that support the rightist textbook.

Over 2,000 members of 18 civic groups in North Gyeongsang Province gathered in Pohang and demanded Japan`s apology for claiming Dokdo`s sovereignty.

The political parties also boosted their protest against Japan. Ruling Uri Party lawmaker Chang Young-dal argued the government must dispatch marines to Dokdo as a gesture of protecting Korea`s sovereignty.

Main opposition Grand National Party leadership decided to make relays of visits to Dokdo from this Saturday. Millennium Democratic Party leader Hahn Hwa-kap contended the government build a statue of Admiral Lee Soon-shin, the man who defeated Japanese navy vessels during the war between Korea and Japan in the 16th century.

(Korea Herald 2005-3-18)

S. Korea Wants `Action,' Not Words

South Korea’s top diplomat urged Tokyo again to take concrete action to mend fences with Seoul as the diplomatic tension over the South Korea-held Tokto islets and their shared history showed little sign of decreasing Friday.

``Japan should show action, not words,’’ Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ban Ki-moon said during a meeting with senior officials from the ruling Uri Party, adding that words are easier than actions.

He told the party officials that the administration is paying keen attention to the Japanese government’s measures to handle the disputes over the islets and controversial textbooks glorifying its imperial past.

The ruling party-government policy consultation meeting followed South Korea’s warning on Thursday that it would take ``stern countermeasures,’’ if Japan continues to challenge its territorial sovereignty or distort the history of about a century ago.

In a clear departure from the previous low-key attitude, South Korea turned to the offensives after a Japanese provincial council approved an ordinance on Wednesday designating a ``Takeshima Day’’ to lay claim to Tokto, called Takeshima in Japanese.

Japan’s foreign minister, Nobutaka Machimura, issued a statement to appease angry Koreans, but at the same time effectively rejected Seoul’s demands including the call for compensation for individual victims of events before and during World War II.

``Our country humbly accepts the fact that in the past it caused great damage and pain to people from Asian countries,’’ he said in the statement, adding it is necessary to face the feelings of the Korean people with deep understanding and sympathy.

``The (compensation) issue was resolved at the time of normalization,’’ the minister said referring to the bilateral treaty in 1965, signed after comprehensive negotiations to reestablish diplomatic relations with Japan, which colonized Korea from 1910-45.

Recent provocative actions by some rightwing extremists in Japan and the hands-off attitude of the Japanese government stirred up a furor among Koreans in recent weeks who still doubt the sincerity of Japanese people’s views about the wrongful descriptions of history.

Experts and watchers see next month as another watershed in the diplomatic row between the neighboring countries as on April 5 the Japanese government will announce of the result of its screening of the controversial textbooks.

The council of Masan City in South Kyongsang Province yesterday legislated a bill declaring its territorial jurisdiction over Japan-controlled Tsushima Island, council officials said.

The bill also calls for establishing ``Tsushima Day’’ in Masan, the officials said.

Tsushima Island, located in the Korea Straits in the South Sea, is just 50 kilometers away from Pusan. The island was once under the control of the ancient Korean dynasty of Choson, according to historians.

The South Korean government decided to introduce more measures to strengthen its effective dominium over Tokto, officials said.

An additional guard ship will be deployed off the tiny islets, according to the maritime police, which currently rotate three vessels on eight-hour shifts to patrol Tokto along with a 41-member police detachment on the islets.

National Police Agency Commissioner General Huh Joon-young will visit Tokto today, while several National Assemblymen are also planning to make similar visits.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry, in the meantime, issued a travel warning cautioning Japanese travelers and residents in South Korea to keep clear of any demonstrations.

``Various groups of South Korean civic activists are demonstrating in front of or near the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, and the demonstrations are likely to continue for some time,’’ said the message posted on the ministry’s Web site.

By Ryu Jin / Staff Reporter

(Korea Times 2005-3-18)

Profile of Dokdo Island

Three maritime police vessels have been in rotation on eight-hour shifts, patrolling Dokdo along with a 41-member police detachment. The government says it will increase one more ship to reinforce patrol in response to Japan`s claim of the islands.

Dokdo Island has been under South Korean control since the liberation of the Korean Peninsula from Japanese colonial rule in 1945.

A total of 946 people have registered their address as Dokdo as of March 10 and there are reportedly 43 residents who mostly work for the government.

Dokdo in the East Sea is known as Takeshima in Japanese or Liancourt Rocks, consists of two main rock islands surrounded by reef and about 32 rocks.

The large island, about 186,000-square-meters, is about 217 kilometers from Uljin County, North Gyeongsang Province`s shore front, and is part of Ulleung County in the same province.

Located about 87 kilometers farther east from Ulleung Island, the small island is the easternmost island in Korea. The distance between Dokdo and Japan`s Oki Islands, which is part of Shimane Prefecture, is 160 kilometers.

Dokdo has been designated as a natural monument since 1982 for its geological and ecological significance, and is overseen by the Cultural Heritage Administration while it is owned by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. The government had restricted individual trips to the islets to protect the island`s natural environment.

The administration said earlier this week that the restrictions will be lifted in a countermeasure against Japan`s claim of Dokdo sovereignty.

The sea near the island is a rich fishing ground and South Korean officials said a large deposit of gas hydrates that could be used as liquid natural gas exists under the deep sea.

By Hwang You-mee

(Korea Herald 2005-3-19)

Dispute over Dokdo brings in weekend rallies, campaigns

Public displays of anger toward Japan continued over the weekend to protest the Shimane Prefecture council`s approval of a bill designating "Takeshima Day," as well as a controversial textbook written by Japanese right-wing nationalists.

As anti-Japanese sentiment rages the country, Japan`s Foreign Minister Nobutake Machimura hinted Saturday that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi`s visit to South Korea may be delayed. The visit had been planned for the first half of this year.

"We can feel the intensity of the movements in South Korea," the Japanese minister told a meeting with Diet committee members, according to Yonhap news. "It would be Prime Minister Koizumi`s turn to go to South Korea within this half of the year, but it just does not seem possible." In Korea, National Police Agency chief Huh Joon-young visited Dokdo on Saturday to "inspect the state of guard and examine safety for future visitors." This is the first time the police chief has visited the islands.

His inspection is seen by many as a symbolic action to counter Japan`s claim of sovereignty over Dokdo. Thirty-seven maritime guards are stationed around Dokdo.

"There is no Takeshima on earth. Only Dokdo exists," Huh was quoted as saying.

Cultural Heritage Administration head Yoo Hong-joon and renowned architect Seung Hyo-sang joined Huh on the visit. He apologized for the negligence of the administration, which has had jurisdiction over the island since 1999, and promised to develop Dokdo.

A slew of anti-Japanese rallies continued across the nation, denouncing what they claim as Japan`s move to distort history.

Some 50 members of the Solidarity for Unification and National Solidarity of People held a candlelight vigil Saturday in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul protesting against the Shimane Prefecture`s creation of "Takeshima Day." The activists claimed that the provincial assembly`s action is "a blunt challenge against Korean people and is a clear infringement of our sovereignty." They also demanded the Japanese government offer a formal apology for the ongoing territorial claims over Dokdo. Seoul Young Korean Academy vowed to spread its boycott campaign against Japanese import products, which was launched March 17.

Following a recent Japanese Web site`s hacking attempt on Korea`s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the ministry sent out letters of caution against possible cyber terror to overseas missions yesterday.

The Foreign Ministry set up a task force as there is a possibility of another attack from anti-Korean groups or those disgruntled by the dispute over Dokdo, an official said.

The ministry also asked the Masan City council to scrap the bill on Japanese-controlled Daemado Island it passed on Friday in retaliation against the Japanese prefecture`s passage of the Takeshima bill.

"The Daemado bill can be understood as an act of patriotism. But it is not appropriate diplomatically," Foreign Ministry spokesman Lee Kyu-hyung said in a statement.

Daemado is called Tsushima in Japanese. It is located in the Korea Straits, about 50 kilometers from Masan, a port on South Korea`s south coast.

By Hwang You-mee

(Korea Herald 2005-3-21)

Quake-tsunami surveillance lab to be built on Dokdo

Come 2007, an earthquake-tsunami surveillance observatory will be established on the Dokdo islands in the East Sea, the Korea Meteorological Administration said yesterday.

The move is part of plans to strengthen the country`s warning structure on natural disasters in light of Sunday`s earthquake in Fukuoka, Japan, which prompted an aftershock across the East Sea into the country`s southern coastal city of Busan and elsewhere around the country.

The KMA will set up an observatory and equipment that measures the magnitude of tidal waves on the islands.

"By setting the observatory up on Dokdo islands, we can check earlier on for seismic waves from Japan, which is frequently disturbed by earthquakes and we can help prevent serious damage," an official said.

"With the new set-up in Dokdo, we can shorten the time of warnings after an earthquake-tsunami by a third, from the current 15 minutes to 10." The KMA is also replacing the current Richter scale in Ulleungdo Island, the administering city of Dokdo, to a broadband Richter scale, as well as set up additional observatories and Richter scales such as that on Dokdo, in other islands off the central and southern areas of the East Sea.

The meteorology agency also said it is hiring six additional experts to watch over seismic sea movement and will begin a combined transmitting system to give out warnings on any waves picked up on its gauges.

A 24-hour hotline will also be established through a Global Transmitting System which will enable Korea to receive real-time warnings and updates on earthquake-tsunami movements in neighboring Japan.

By Choi Soung-ah

(Korea Herald 2005-3-22)

`Tsushima Controlled by Ancient Korean Kingdom'

A book written by an American missionary to the Choson Kingdom says Tsushima, an island in Nagasaki Prefecture in Japan, was a dependency of the ancient Korean kingdom of Silla, a professor said.

According to Lee Hyun-bok, professor emeritus at Seoul Cyber University, the History of Korea, written by Homer B. Hulbert (1863-1949), a missionary and scholar, in 1905, shows the Japanese island used to be under Korean control.

``It is important to notice that the island of Tsushima, whether actually conquered by Silla or not, became a dependency of that kingdom,’’ the book says. ``On account of the sterility of the soil the people of that island were annually aided by the Silla government.’’

``What we should do to counter Japan’s groundless claim over the Tokto islets is to find more historical facts, instead of just holding emotional and nationalistic protests,’’ the former linguistics professor at Seoul National University said.

He said the book should be considered as important historical evidence in disproving Japan’s claim to Korea’s easternmost islets in the East Sea.

Lee said he was reminded by a recent e-mail sent by Professor Shimizu Kiyoshi at Kumamoto University in Japan, with whom he had maintained a long-term friendship.

``I’d like to inform Koreans, especially scholars, of the facts as I want the recent controversies over the Tokto islets to be resolved soon. Both Koreans and Japanese shared many things in common in the past,’’ the Japanese professor said in the e-mail.

Hulbert came to Korea in 1886, one of three young Americans hired by King Kojong to teach English in the Royal English School.

During his stay in Korea until 1907, Hulbert gained knowledge about Korean culture and history. The king even entrusted him with special state messages pleading for foreign assistance against Japan in 1905 to then U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and in 1907 to the Hague Conference held in the Netherlands.

He again visited Korea in 1949 at the invitation of then South Korean President Syngman Rhee, but died in Korea at the age of 86, worn out from the long journey.

His simple memorial at Yanghwajin, a cemetery for foreigners in Hapchong-dong, northwestern Seoul, reads, ``I would rather be buried in Korea than in Westminster Abbey.’’

By Lee Jin-woo / Staff Reporter

(Korea Times 2005-3-24)

Roh vows stern response to Japan history distortion

President Roh Moo-hyun said yesterday the government has no other choice but to act sternly against any attempt by Japan to distort history.

In a letter to the public posted on the Cheong Wa Dae Web site, Roh said, "We can no longer sit and watch Japan`s intention to carry on with its domination by rationalizing its history of invasion and colonization." He said it was a matter of the future of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.

Until now, Roh had remained low-key towards the aggravated Korea-Japan relations, despite public anger over Japan`s textbook and its renewed claims to a group of Korean islands in the East Sea. Many claim the textbook glorifies Japan`s invasion of Asian countries in the 19th century.

His most public action came last week when he reportedly gave an in-depth explanation of the Dokdo islands` sovereignty to visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"The core of our diplomatic countermeasure is to flatly demand the Japanese government fix (the problem)," Roh said.

"I have doubts whether the Japanese government would give a sincere response, but we must do what must be done with persistence." Roh noted Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi`s repeated visits to the shrine honoring war dead from World War II, as well as Japan`s Shimane Prefecture`s symbolic claim on the Dokdo islands by designating a "Takeshima Day" last week, and the anticipated Tokyo approval on April 5 of a history textbook compiled by radical rightists. "These moves nullify all the past reflection and apologies made by Japan," Roh said.

He also pointed out that such moves cannot be overlooked as they are being processed under the assistance of Japan`s central government and the ruling power.

The president said that persuading the international community and the Japanese public is the key to solving the problem, and added the Korean public should deal with it calmly and with patience.

The pan-government task force headed by Vice Education Minister Kim Young-sik held its second weekly meeting and decided on the basic outline of countermeasures against Japan`s April 5 completion of reviewing new textbooks.

The government will demand Japan fix distorted parts of its new history textbook and hinder distribution of the controversial book after April 5, a government official said.

The Education Ministry will form a network with schools and nongovernmental organizations while pressuring its Japanese counterpart through the joint Korea-Japan history research commission.

The Foreign Ministry will continue to demand the central government revise the distorted textbook and carefully watch Japanese ultra-rightists` moves to expand distribution of the book.

The Ministry will also use all adequate international gatherings to promote Japan`s accelerating move to distort history, the official explained.

In the past, the Japanese government has often deflected criticism from the Korean people and government against misleading textbooks, claiming private publications were beyond government control.

By Lee Joo-hee

(Korea Herald 2005-3-24)

Roh Orders Gov't to Eradicate Japan's Colonial Legacy

President Roh Moo-hyun on Tuesday instructed the government to intensify its effort to rectify the remnants of Japan's colonization of Korea.

"We need to clearly get rid of the legacy of Japan's colonization of Korea in various documents and records all around the world," Roh told a weekly Cabinet meeting. "That will enable us to recover our sovereignty in knowledge and information."
The remarks come as the Japanese government is reviewing whether to approve some school textbooks which glorify Japan's 1910-1945 colonization of the Korean Peninsula. Tokyo's decision is scheduled for April 5.

The school textbook issue, coupled with Japan's new claim to South Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo, has triggered a fresh round of anti-Japanese sentiment here.

Roh issued a strong-worded statement last week to denounce Japan for its failure to properly apologize for its brutal colonization of the Korean Peninsula, although he added he will abide by a pledge to hold a summit meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi by the end of June.

"The government should come forward and intensify its effort to eradicate the remnants of the colonial era," Roh said.

In a related move, the presidential National Security Council (NSC) issued a statement to reiterate that the Roh administration will deal with the Dokdo and other Japan issues with a calm and firm attitude.

"At the core of the Dokdo issue is our attempt to overcome the history of Japan's colonization of Korea and retrieve our sovereignty," the statement said.

The NSC noted Japan merged Dokdo into its territory in 1905, when Korea was under the influence of the Japanese military during Japan's war with Russia, and then tried to claim Dokdo again at the signing a post-war peace treaty in San Francisco in 1952 when South Korea was in turmoil from the 1950-53 Korean War.

"The Roh government approached its relations with Japan from the perspective of a future-oriented relationship while squarely looking at the past," it said. "However, Japan intensified its claim to Dokdo to belittle the Korea-Japan Friendship Year."

(Yonhap News 2005-3-29)

`Japan`s textbook changed for worse`

The government fired two salvos at Japan yesterday in the war of words between the two countries, declaring that a new textbook worsens hisory distortion and saying publicly it will block Tokyo`s bid for a permanent U.N. Security Council seat because it lacks qualifications and trust from its neighbors.

Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said the new textbook, set to be issued shortly, "seems to have worsened," signaling an all-out offensive against what the government calls Japan`s unswerving attempt to erase its imperialist past.

Ban`s comments came soon after Ambassador to the United Nations Kim Sam-hoon told reporters in New York, "There are limits for a country to play the role of a world leader if it doesn`t have the trust of its neighboring countries." News reports said Kim said that it should not happen and the Korean government would not let Japan enter the U.N. Security Council without a proper reflection of its imperialist past, news reports said.

At present, about 10 million Chinese and 1 million Koreans in each of those two nationsa have signed a petition protesting Japan`s bid for a permanent seat on any expanded Security Council.

The Seoul government is also preparing three different levels of countermeasures against the scheduled public unveiling next Tuesday of the new textbook, which reportedly glorifies the Japanese invasions of Asian countries and describes the Korean-controlled Dokdo islands in the East Sea as Japanese territory, sources said.

"(One of the) textbooks in question seems to have worsened as it still carries the (previous) contents" claiming the Dokdo islands, Ban told reporters yesterday morning. He said the government is closely analyzing the contents of the textbooks.

Fanning more anger among Koreans, Japanese Education Minister reiterated at a news conference yesterday it was "natural" for Japanese schools to teach the students that Takeshima (the Japanese name for Dokdo) belonged to Japan.

Korea-Japan relations have become increasingly tense the past several weeks as Japan stepped up moves to claim sovereignty over Dokdo by designating Feb. 22 a day to celebrate Japan`s first claim to the islets 100 years ago.

The history row between the two neighboring countries reached a new height yesterday upon reports that the new textbook that awaits Tokyo`s final approval for publication next Tuesday still distorts and whitewashes Japan`s invasions of Asian countries in the 19th century.

South Korea had initially requested Japan to revise a total of 35 portions of previous textbooks for accuracy back in 2001.

The Japanese Education Ministry is set to approve eight new textbooks to be used at secondary schools nationwide from next year. Two of the eight textbooks compiled by radical conservationists have long been criticized for whitewashing Japan`s invasion to Asian countries, including Korea.

Reports revealed that one of the two textbooks in question contains a picture of Dokdo with a description that the islands belong to Japan.

The South Korean government has prepared different measures for three different scenarios: whether the textbooks appear to contain more distortions, carry little improvement, or appear to have improved significantly.

The main focus would be on discouraging Japanese schools from selecting the questionable textbooks through networking by civic groups and politicians.

Government officials refused to reveal more details of the plans for better efficiency.

Cheong Wa Dae said the government must take cautious steps against the controversial textbook until the final approval April 5.

As part of its move to emphasize Korea`s sovereignty, the Defense Ministry published a revised edition of the 2004 defense white paper yesterday stating the country`s armed forces have bolstered their naval, aerial and submarine patrols in maritime security areas including Dokdo amid growing territorial challenges from Japan. The ministry had excluded Dokdo in its original version of the white paper.

A government source said that the level of Korea`s counterattack against Japan`s history play would greatly hinge on whether the completed versions of the new textbooks carry the picture and description of Dokdo as Japan`s territory.

Japan began putting claims to the islands in 1905 during the Russo-Japanese War. Korea regained all its territorial rights in 1945 upon the liberation from Japan`s colonial rule.

Since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, South Korean government has been controlling Dokdo with a small police dispatched to the islands.

Japan is facing growing condemnation from its neighboring countries including China over their new textbooks that critics say attempt to beautify Japan`s invasion of Asia during World War II.

The Korean government`s countermeasures team against Japanese textbook headed by Vice Education Minster Kim Young-shik planned to hold the fourth round of the meeting yesterday afternoon.

South Korean Lawmakers also stepped up its move to add weight to Korea`s sovereignty over Dokdo by speeding up its push to pass a bill to preserve the rocky islets.

By Lee Joo-hee

(Korea Herald 2005-4-2)

Japan Approves Controversial Textbooks with Few Changes

Shutting out criticism and diplomatic pressure from neighboring countries, the Japanese government approved a set of school textbooks Tuesday that many critics in Asia believe distort the truth about Japan's imperialist past.

After a year-long review, Japan's Ministry of Education endorsed the latest editions of history and citizenship textbooks by Fuso Publishing Co., demanding only few changes be made to the books.

The final approval comes despite frequent protests by neighboring countries including South Korea and China against the textbooks criticized for containing distorted accounts of their shared history.

First written in 2001 by a group of right-wing authors, the Fusosha history textbook, named after its Japanese publisher, has been a source of diplomatic dispute between Japan and its neighboring countries that believe the textbook attempts to provide justification for Japan's imperialist invasion of Asian countries that ended with World War II.

Seoul had also directed its criticism toward the citizenship textbook that adds support for Japan's claim to a set of South Korean islets in the East Sea.

The South Korean government said in a prebuttal to the result of the textbook review that the history textbook had been edited "somewhat" positively while the citizenship textbook had been changed for the worse.

(Yonhap News 2005-4-5)

Background of textbook dispute

The Japanese Ministry of Education and Science controls the content of its school history textbooks to a certain extent.

Every public and private school individually selects one history textbook from a list of seven or eight authorized by the ministry every four years.

To be on the government list, each publishing company`s textbook must pass inspection before it is allowed to be marketed to each school board.

In a screening process that lasts one year, Japanese textbook companies submit their manuscripts to the ministry, whose appointed committees examine them according to prescribed criteria.

The ministry offers the companies opportunities to revise their drafts if necessary, and copies of the ministry-approved manuscripts are then available for consideration by the local districts.

In 1965 Japanese historian Saburo Ienaga filed the first of his three lawsuits against his country`s education ministry charging that the process of textbook approval was unconstitutional and illegal. The ministry had rejected Ienaga`s history textbook because it contained "too many illustrations of the `dark side` of the war, such as an air raid, a city left in ruins by an atomic bomb, and disabled veterans." Ienaga`s second suit two years later also involved the issue of constitutionality and focused on points related to Ienaga`s characterization of Japan`s foundation myths and a description of the 1941 Japan-USSR neutrality pact.

In 1982 the screening process in Japan became a diplomatic issue when South Korean, Chinese and local Japanese media extensively covered changes required by the Ministry of Education.

The ministry had ordered Ienaga to remove critical language in his history textbook, insisting that he write of the Japanese army`s "advance into" China instead of its "aggression in" China and of "uprising among the Korean people" instead of the "March 1st Independence Movement." Pressure applied by Korea and China along with some of its lesser-voiced Asian neighbors succeeded in getting the Japanese education board to back down and resulted in adding a new authorization criterion: textbooks must show understanding and international harmony in their treatment of modern and contemporary historical events involving neighboring Asian countries.

Ienaga`s lawsuits lasted 30 years. Although in 1997 - in response to Ienaga`s third lawsuit instituted in 1986 - the Supreme Court of Japan unanimously upheld the ministry`s right to continue screening textbooks, Ienaga and his fellow critics took home only a partial victory.

Then in April 2001, a middle school textbook by a Japanese right-wing publisher the Tsukurukai, passed the inspection and the Korean and Chinese governments protested strongly.

South Korea demanded the revision of 25 parts of the textbook. However, the Japanese government rejected their demands. Consequently, anti-Japanese feelings erupted throughout Korea and China.

In the end, Tsukurukai`s controversial textbook was adopted by a minuscule 0.039 percent of schools. Japan`s main broadcaster NHK said 532 out of 542 school districts decided not to adopt the text.


1955 August : The first distortion; the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party partially states Japanese history 1982 June : Japan`s education minister orders Japanese historian Saburo lenaga to change the content of his textbook from Japanese army`s "advance into" China instead of its "aggression in" China
1982 July : Korean and Chinese governments call for the revision of the criterion to authorize a history textbook
1986 July : A textbook glorifying the Japanese invasion is published
2001 April : Japanese government approves a middle school textbook by a Japanese right-wing publisher the Tsukurukai.
2005 January : Scholars from Korea, China and Japan announce publishing a textbook with joint account of history dubbed "Modern History of East Asia"
2005 April : The result of the review is disclosed

By Choi Soung-ah  

(Korea Herald 2005-4-6)

Civic groups bash `twisted` history

While lashing out at the Japanese government`s decision to authorize the history textbooks that reflect some rightist groups` problematic rendering of the country`s imperialistic past, civic organizations and scholars here moved to assume the role they can play to best deal with the revisited dispute.

By encouraging the conscientious voices within the Japanese people they will continue to put pressure on Japanese schools not to select the textbooks in question.

"After the painful defeat in 2001, the Japanese rightist group is now back with `revenge` with new version of distorted history textbooks written in a more sophisticated and dangerous way," Asia Peace and History Education Network, a civil organization established after the first Japanese history textbook row in 2001, told a news conference held at the Press Center in central Seoul yesterday.

"Now that the textbooks are authorized by the Japanese ministry, we will concentrate on campaigning against the textbooks, dissuading Japanese schools from choosing those books," it said in a statement jointly issued by 14 civic groups from Korea, China and Japan.

In Tokyo, a Japanese organization The Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21 was expected to hold another press conference, denouncing the Japanese government`s decision and announcing the launch of a public campaign to raise awareness on the rightist group`s moves to romanticize Japan`s past wrongdoings.

When the first row over Japanese history textbook erupted back in 2001, the conscientious forces in Japan, heralded by the Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21 and joined by some Korean and Chinese groups, appealed to the people in Japan, saying the textbook in question showed no repentance or apology for the damage and sufferings Japan had caused to Asian countries and should not be taught to the children.

The movement was resonated through many Japanese teachers and scholars and the textbook in question, published by "Fusosha," was adopted by only a dozen Japanese schools, less than 0.04 percent of the entire schools in Japan.

Aiming to bring down the selection rate of the "twisted" books by Japanese schools, the civilian networks of Korea are again set to mobilize all possible civilian networks including the sister relations between Korean and Japan local governments and schools. The history education network is also planning a campaign tour to Japan to help such grass-root level networks between Korea and Japan to actively involve in such efforts.

After the 2001 textbook row, about 200 scholars, teachers and historians in Korea, China, and Japan have joined their hands with an aim to set up joint recognition of history among the three nations and prepare positive solutions for conflicts rather than criticize one another.

The outcome, a jointly-written history textbook titled "Modern History of East Asia," is due out on May 18.

Yang Mi-gang, director of Asia Peace and History Education Network said, "History disputes are sure to reoccur in the future. We need to draw out a road map with a long-term vision on how to deal with history controversies between neighboring countries in this region," The Korean government launched a project in 2002 to outline measures against Japan`s ominous moves to glorify its past colonial rule of Korea and many Asian countries, but as soon as the row between Korea and Japan abated it was forgotten, Yang said.

By Lee Sun-young

(Korea Herald 2005-4-6)

Japanese textbooks claim Dokdo as Japan`s land

Korea protests distortions of history

Boldly ignoring warnings from both Korea and China, the finalized new Japanese textbooks not only still carry numerous distortions of history but also add new claims to Korea`s Dokdo islands, leaving Korea no other choice but to proceed with firm countermeasures against Japan`s incessant attempt to beautify its wartime atrocities, the government said yesterday.

"The Korean government expresses grave concern over some of the textbooks that claim Dokdo`s sovereignty. It is a rationalization of Japan`s colonial invasion in the past and a denial of Korea`s liberation," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The Japanese Education Ministry announced that it approved textbooks from eight publications after revising controversial content pinpointed by neighboring countries including South Korea, North Korea and China. The textbooks on history, society and geography are to be used at junior high schools beginning next year.

The South Korean government, which spent the last several days reviewing the approved textbooks, deemed some of the controversial content was changed, but that the majority is still based on Japan`s "self-centered" views of history.

"The Korean government again demands Japan`s efforts to fundamentally change the textbooks that still rationalize the past wrongdoings and beautify its imperialist past," Foreign Ministry spokesman Lee Kyu-hyung said in the statement.

The ministry said it will deal separately with the remaining distortions in the textbooks and the revived claims to Dokdo islands, which are considered a challenge to Korea`s sovereignty.

While the ministry said that it will deal separately with the textbook distortions and the revived claims to Dokdo, the most serious addition to the textbooks this year is three of the eight textbooks` newfound descriptions that Korea-controlled Dokdo islands actually belong to Japan both "historically and based on international law," the South Korean government said.

Two of the three textbooks, each published by largely circulated Tokyo Publishing Co. and Osaka Publishing Co. have each added a new page containing a large picture of the Dokdo islets and a description that the islands are in a dispute over sovereignty with Korea.

The controversial textbook on society compiled by Fuso Publishing Co. and authored by radical rightists also did not extract Dokdo`s description as Japan`s territory in the new version.

The disclosure is sure to tip the Korean public`s outrage over Japan`s repeated claims on the easternmost islets that are widely perceived by Koreans as Japan`s attempt to violate Korea`s sovereignty as it was done in 1905.

Japan laid claims to the islets at the end of the Russo-Japanese War arguing that the islands were part of its step to invade the Korean Peninsula. Japan occupied Korea in 1910 until 1945.

The history textbook compiled by Fusosha, which was criticized the most by Korea and China in 2001 for the excessive history distortion, made some changes but still carries significant amount of misinterpretations and omissions, the South Korean government said. Examples include a chapter that says Japan has helped Korea`s modernization through colonization.

The textbook also still fails to mention thousands of Korean women who were forced to provide sexual service to Japanese soldiers.

The South Korean government had requested revisions on a total of 35 parts in the new textbooks, of which four of them have been revised, 26 of them remain the same and seven new "distorted" parts were added.

The Foreign Ministry said it will invite foreign ambassadors to Korea to inform them of Japan`s attempt to distort history today while Korean Ambassador to Japan will visit the Japanese Foreign Ministry in a show of protest.

On a long term basis, the government will launch the second term of the Korea-Japan history research committee and concentrate on discouraging Japanese schools from choosing the textbook in question.

It will also use various international organizations to inform of Japan`s attempts and activate parliamentary and municipal collaboration between Korea and Japan.

The government, however, will not make any specific request for revision, leaving the job up to civic and scholastic groups.

Upon the Japanese government`s final approval of the books, the Japanese publishers will send samples of their government-approved textbooks to the education boards representing each province, prefecture and others within 30 days.

A total of 590 regions will select their preferred textbooks by August this year for them to be used next year among secondary school students.

During the selection, teachers and parents` group are said to play a large part by submitting their own reviews on the textbooks.

Four years ago, only 0.039 percent of the regions selected the controversial history textbook compiled by Fusosha Publishing Co., named after its radical revisionists, due to an active protest by many of the Japanese parents and teachers against history distortion.

The amicable start of this year celebrating the 40th anniversary of Korea-Japan bilateral ties quickly deteriorated with Japan`s regenerated claims on the small group of easternmost islands of Korea.

Calling the islets by the Japanese name "Takeshima," Japan assert that Korea-controlled Dokdo islands actually belong to Japan, because it laid claims on it in 1905, a year Japan won the Russo-Japanese War that eventually led to its invasion of Korea.

Rightist government officials and politicians supported the claim by recently making comments on how Dokdo legally belong to Japan and that schools must teach students the islets belong the Japan.

The South Korean government, which had been refraining from provoking or instilling international dispute over the islands, finally spoke up and warned Korea was ready for a diplomatic war should Japan continue to make ungrounded argument.

It also fortified Korea`s watch on Dokdo, effectively highlighting Korea`s sovereignty of the rocky islets after years of keeping the islands away from spotlight for diplomatic concerns.

The South Korean government, however, welcomed a number of revisions made in consideration of Korea`s request four years ago and said future cooperation from many of the Japanese public and scholars against history distortion will be crucial.

South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon has left for Islamabad, Pakistan, yesterday to attend the Asian Cooperation Dialogue, in which he will successively meet with his Chinese and Japanese counterparts today and tomorrow.

Both discussions are likely to pivot around the impending history and diplomatic war that involve all three countries.

High on agenda for the Korea-Chinese talks will be the resumption of the six-party talks and possible collaboration in countering Japan`s history distortion.

Ban is likely to consume most of the time on Korea-Japan talks to express Korea`s strong opposition towards Japan`s exaggerated claim on Dokdo.

Also on spotlight is Japan`s bid to seize a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council in line with the international powerhouse`s reform.

Korea has already made clear it wants to expand the number of non-permanent seats, meaning it cannot support Japan`s bid as it counters the preference of reform method.

But with public calls escalating against Japan`s entrance to the Security Council in line with Japan`s Dokdo claim, Korea`s open opposition to Japan`s bid is likely to coincidently gain emphasis in the coming months.

By Lee Joo-hee

(Korea Herald 2005-4-6)

Ban confronts Japanese minister on textbooks

Seoul questions Tokyo`s role in Dokdo claims

Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon confronted Japanese counterpart Nobutaka Machimura yesterday and questioned the Japanese government`s role in new textbooks which lay new claims to the Korean-controlled Dokdo islands in the East Sea.

Ban also demanded that the Japanese government flex its authority to retract "inaccurate" Dokdo descriptions from the textbooks for the sake of healthy Korea-Japan relations.

The face-off in Islamabad, Pakistan, during the Asian Cooperation Dialogue conference, was viewed as a crucial opportunity to improve fast-deteriorating bilateral relations over Japan`s renewed claims to sovereignty over Dokdo. (The Japanese call the islands Takeshima.) The ministerial talks were also expected to spur planning for the next Korea-Japan shuttle summit between President Roh Moo-hyun and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, slated to be held within the first half of this year.

After a yearlong review closely watched by Asian countries that had protested distortion of history in previous versions, Japan`s Education Ministry on Tuesday released new history, geography and other textbooks compiled by eight publishers for use in secondary schools.

Korea and China summoned the Japanese ambassadors in their respective capitals to protest the worsening "distortion" of Japan`s invasion and colonization.

The Japanese government reiterated it has no direct influence or right to interfere the compilation of textbooks by private publishers.

As part of Korea`s move to publicize Japan`s attempts, Ambassador Choi Hyuck explained to the U.N. conference on human rights in Geneva the "distortions" in Japanese textbooks and urged Japan to take countermeasures.

"... Certain textbooks in Japan... continue to distort or omit altogether historical facts relating to gross human rights violations," Choi said, citing the exclusion of Japan`s mobilization and enslavement of so-called "comfort women" during its colonial rule of Korea 1910-45.

"My government expresses its deep concern and resentment that Japan still refuses to come to terms with its past by ignoring our repeated calls for rectification," he said.

Protests against the textbooks also surged in China as anti-Japan campaigns and boycott of Japanese products spread widely.

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and Japan`s Machimura are set to meet on April 17 to discuss the textbooks and sovereignty over the Diaoyu islands, or the Senkakus, among other issues.

Japanese media reported yesterday that more publishers are moving to include the description of Dokdo as Japanese territory when additional revisions are made, taking advantage of the publicity that has been generated and higher circulation rates.

The depiction by three textbooks of Dokdo as Japanese territory has already prompted vehement anger and disappointment among the Korean public.

One of the books, compiled by Fuso Publishing Co., added a new phrase in the latest version, saying Korea is illegally controlling the islands, the same description used on Japan`s Foreign Ministry Web site.

Japan first laid claim to the islands on Feb. 22, 1905, when the central administration registered Dokdo as part of its Shimane Prefecture under the name Takeshima.

Five years later, in 1910, Japan invaded Korea and ruled for it as a colony for 35 years until its 1945 surrender which ended World war II.

This year, Shimane Prefecture designated Feb. 22 as "Takeshima Day" and sparked vehement daily protests outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul and elsewhere in Korea.

Japan has sought for some time to bring its claims to the islands to the international court, but Korea deems that as a mere provocation and a denial of the historical facts.

By Lee Joo-hee

(Korea Herald 2005-4-8)


War of Diplomacy Over Dokdo

President Roh Moo-hyun declared a virtual war of diplomacy against Japan for a fundamental solution on the long-standing dispute over ownership of Dokdo, a group of rocky islets in the East Sea. In a lively televised statement Tuesday, Roh, characterizing the rocky islets as a symbol of full restoration of Korea's sovereignty, pledged to directly confront Japan's claim to the islets.

The declaration, the toughest ever on Japan, is seen as a new President Roh doctrine, vowing to fundamentally change Korea's diplomatic strategy in countering Japan's territorial claims to Dokdo, to be more active and aggressive. We would like to estimate it as a show of the President's determination to seek a fundamental solution by taking the matter head-on.

It is the first time for the President of Korea to mention the historic background of the matter directly. President Roh rightly reflected the underlying sentiment of Korean's toward the Dokdo affair when he said that "Japan's claim over Dokdo is an act of contradicting Korea's full liberation and independence."

Japan first declared ownership of the islets in 1905, five years before it started its full-fledged colonial rule of the Korean peninsula. In 1905, various state affairs of Korea including its right of diplomacy were already under the control of Japan.

There is no legitimate foundation for Japan to claim ownership except the fact that Imperial Japan incorporated the islets as part of its colonial territory. It is hardly understandable why Japan continues to claim ownership over Dokdo while abandoning the rest of the peninsula after their defeat in World War II.

The ownership dispute is directly related to Japanese colonial rule of the Korean peninsula. We believe it is right for Japan to approach the solution of the matter from an attitude of soulsearching their past atrocities committed against the people of Korea.

What is important from now is how to reflect the new doctrine in actual negotiation with Japan.The talks to define Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the region surrounding Dokdo are scheduled to take place from next month. Actually, it is a meeting to solve territorial dispute over Dokdo. However, one thing we should not forget is the fact that the friendly and cooperative relationships between Korea and Japan are playing a pivotal role for maintaining peace and stability in the Northeast Asian region.

The economic and cultural exchanges between the two neighboring countries are considered to have grown to a level that makes it impossible to be stopped because of the dispute over the islets. The concerned authorities are asked to work out a new strategy in the negotiation with Japan in consideration of the wide-range of factors pending between the two nations.

Upon listening the Presidential statement, Japanese Premier Junichiro Koizumi was reported to have told reporters "I am ready to meet President Roh at any time." We would like to call on President Roh to comply with his Japanese counterpart and discuss the Dokdo issues directly.

(Korea Times 2006-4-25)

Korea determined to deter Japan`s claims over Dokdo

The Korean government has put out all the stops to stave off Japan`s claims over Dokdo, the disputed chain of islands lying halfway between the two countries.

Echoing the administration`s toughened line of diplomacy toward Japan over Dokdo, government officials yesterday said it will exert all efforts to ensure that the islets are included in Korea`s exclusive economic zone during upcoming talks with Japan.

"Dokdo will mostly certainly be made a part of the Korean EEZ," said Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon.

Yesterday, President Roh Moo-hyun issued a statement outlining a significantly reinforced commitment toward countering Japanese provocations regarding Dokdo.

"This is a matter that calls for a public and dignified response," he said, condemning the Japanese government for staking "unjust claims" on land it occupied during its colonial rule.

Shunning Japan`s attempts to stoke international concern over the islands, Korea had so far chosen a low-key policy.

The new diplomatic rhetoric was met with mixed response.

"The president`s remarks were appreciated in that they effectively showcase the differences in historical views between South Korea and Japan regarding Dokdo," said Seo Young-ha, an official from a civic organization working to internationally publicize Seoul`s sovereignty over Dokdo.

Critics questioned the diplomatic clout of the hard-line stance and demanded practical steps to ensue.

"This is not an issue that can be solved with words. The Dokdo dispute can no longer be issued with temporary measures, so the government must come up with a definite stance on the islets and take step-by-step measures accordingly," said Grand National Party spokesman Rep. Lee Ke-jin.

Jin Chang-soo, director of Sejong Institute Japan Center, said "It is questionable whether Roh`s remarks will bring any results. It is good that the dialogue will band the people, but appropriate actions must ensue. I also believe the president should refrain from a hard-line diplomatic policy since it would limit our options and harden Japan`s position.

Other scholars also have recommended sophisticated diplomacy techniques from the administration to resolve the standoff with Japan.

The government, meanwhile, said it will re-embark on plans to give Korean names to the seabed in Dokdo waters because that part of maritime territory belongs to Korea.

Seoul earlier agreed to delay the plans after Tokyo conceded to pull back its survey ships.

The two sides also decided to open talks for the demarcation of their territorial waters, but prospects for a deal remain dim, analysts say.

In the early 1900s, Japan annexed Dokdo when it forcefully occupied the Korean Peninsula.

Tokyo continues to claim the islets even though more than half a century has passed since its 36-year colonial rule ended. Japanese officials, including Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, also pay homage at the Yasukuni war shrine where Japan`s war criminals are honored.

Yesterday, the president linked Dokdo with the shrine visits, saying Japan was denying Korea`s independence and sovereignty with its claims to the islands.

"Dokdo is not only a part of (Korean) territory, but soil of historic significance where 40 years of painful history are engraved vividly," he said.

Roh said that until Japan corrects its wrongdoings, he sees no chance for the countries to cement truly friendly bilateral ties.

He also stressed Seoul is not looking for yet another apology from Tokyo, but for it to act accordingly with previous apologies it conveyed for its past faults.

By Kim Ji-hyun

(Korea Herald 2005-4-26)

Roh gets tough on Dokdo issue

Koizumi suggests summit

By Kim Ji-hyun President Roh Moo-hyun has issued a strong warning that Korea will no longer tolerate provocations by Japan regarding the disputed islets of Dokdo.

"(From this moment on) the government will revisit the entirety of our response with regard to the matter of Dokdo," said Roh in a 15-minute live broadcast yesterday morning.

In the prepared statement, the president pledged tough measures to counter all forms of provocation from Tokyo.

"This is a matter where no compromise or surrender is possible. We will continue to muster every measure of our national strength and diplomatic resources until the day when the Japanese government remedies these wrongdoings," said Roh.

Japan has laid claim to the Korean-controlled islands based on its past colonial rule over the Korean peninsula.

The change in the administration`s approach to the issue comes on the heels of the latest standoff triggered by a controversial maritime survey that Tokyo had sought to conduct in Korean waters.

Although the tension was defused at a weekend vice ministerial level meeting, the two sides are far from agreement over the chain of rocky islets sitting halfway between the two countries in the East Sea.

Responding to Roh`s speech, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi yesterday suggested a summit meeting with the Korean leader.

Koizumi said a meeting with Roh could help smooth relations.

"I think we should hold a summit," Koizumi told reporters. "I have always said that I am ready to hold a summit." Last year, Roh canceled a regular summit over Koizumi`s visits to the Yasukuni war shrine. Koreans view these visits as Ca glorification of Japan`s past imperialistic rule.

In his statement yesterday, Roh said Japan`s claim over Dokdo has similar implications as the war shrine visits, saying they are attempts to distort history concerning Japan and its neighbors.

The president also called for Japan to abandon its demands that Korea give up its proposal to give Korean names to features on the seabed in the East Sea.

"The stalemate over the exclusive economic zone and ultimately, the issue of Dokdo cannot be resolved unless Japan gives up its demands," said Roh.

The two countries are scheduled to hold talks in May to discuss the demarcation of their maritime borders. Previous talks fell through because both sides tried to include Dokdo in their EEZs.

So far, Korea has taken a notably restrained approach in dealing with arguments over Dokdo in order to avoid an international dispute. However, more than half a century since it withdrew from the peninsula, Tokyo continues to lay claim over the islets which are known as "Takeshima" in Japanese.

(Korea Herald 2005-4-26)

Task force to back tough Dokdo stance

Following calls for action after President Roh Moo-huyn announced a tougher diplomatic stance against Japan`s territorial claims on the Dokdo islets Wednesday, the foreign ministry yesterday said the creation of a special task force team is underway.

"Headed by Assistant Minister Ryu Kwang-sok, a group of experienced diplomats will be summoned to form a Dokdo task force," Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said yesterday.

In addition, the government will bid for membership of the International Hydographic Organization to help speed up the process of giving Korean names to the seabed beneath Dokdo.

President Roh`s Wednesday address signaled a shift from diplomatic rhetoric previously used between Japan and Korea over Tokyo`s continuing claims on the chain of rocky islets .

"Dokdo is our land," said Roh from a prepared statement. He stressed that the government will completely reconsider its line of diplomacy regarding the rocky clusters of islets sitting in the two countries` overlapping waters.

Further turning up the heat under the issue, Seoul is mulling over changing the principle base marker of its exclusive economic zone from Ulleungdo to Dokdo. Ulleungdo is a neighboring Korean island.

Japanse prime minister Junichiro Koizumi offered to meet with Roh shortly after the president made his statement. Yesterday, Koizumi told reporters that, "Korea and China will regret having vetoed my offers to hold summit meetings." The Japanese premier, whose term expires in September, also said that Korea was risking its "good ties" with Japan.

Roh canceled a summit last year after Koizumi went ahead with a visit to the Yasukuni war shrine where Japan`s war dead, including a number considered as war criminals by Korea and China, are commemorated.

Koizumi is scheduled to pay another visit to the shrine on August 15.

Japan also suggested that pending talks on the demarcation of the Exclusive Economic Zone should be postponed until after Korea`s local elections are held May 31.

The two countries agreed to re-open dialogue on the EEZ line as a part of a new agreement following the latest feud over a maritime survey Japan sought to conduct near Dokdo caused a diplomatic showdown.

But the government`s newly hardline stance has prompted concern.

"A wiser approach would be to gather as many strategic cards as possible, such as gaining the support of the international community and retaining necessary historical documents," said Jin Chang-soo, director of Sejong Institute Japan Center.

Unless Japan changes, it will be difficult to see any significant progress over Dokdo regardless of Korea`s diplomatic tone, he added.

The demarcation of the EEZ line will also be a time-consuming process, said Jin.

The islets are barely habitable, but a number of Koreans reside there. The waters surrounding Dokdo are a rich fishing ground and may also have natural gas reserves beneath them.

By Kim Ji-hyun

(Korea Herald 2005-4-27)

Foreign Ministry to explain Dokdo

The Foreign Ministry plans to arrange individual meetings with foreign ambassadors to explain Korea`s position regarding the Dokdo islets.

With tension remaining high over the deepening territorial row with Japan, the Korean government decided it was time to clarify the Dokdo situation to foreign diplomats stationed here.

Foreign ministry officials said yesterday they will elaborate on President Roh Moo-hyun`s recent speech on Dokdo and more importantly, offer foreign diplomats the historical background supporting Korean claims over the rocky islets.

Japanese embassy officials will be excluded from this rare explanatory session.

Seoul has also been announcing follow-up measures to the president`s new line of diplomacy toward Tokyo and Japan`s attempts to claim Korea`s easternmost islets of Dokdo.

Affixing Korean names to seabed features in the waters around Dokdo, along with the creation of a special task force to monitor the issue are among such measures.

Yesterday, scholars released a 1987 U.S. Air Force navigation map showing the islets clearly located in Korea`s air defense zone.


Japan is becoming increasingly animated in its response to Korea`s moves.

"Korea is speaking solely from its viewpoint by claiming it controls the islets. From now on, we plan to see Korean control over Dokdo as an `illegal occupation," Kyodo News quoted Japanese government officials as saying.

Critics in Seoul point out that this assertion counters a speech made by Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe at the Brookings Institute last year where he conceded that Korea was in effect controlling the disputed islets.

The presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae, meanwhile, declined to comment on the news reports.

"The government chooses to respond to the bigger picture," officials said.

But local political parties assailed Tokyo.

"The term `illegal occupation` is in itself a provocation. Japan has once again violated Korea, this time without guns," said Lee Ke-jin, a representative of the opposition Grand National Party. "These are the most irresponsible remarks Japan has made since the day Korea was liberated." Amid the ongoing conflict, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, Yasuhisa Shiozaki, is scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon during a two-day visit starting May 1, ministry officials said yesterday.

Tensions escalated last week after Tokyo dispatched ships to conduct a maritime survey inside territory claimed by Korea.

Despite reaching a temporary agreement to defuse the crisis, President Roh announced the beginning of a more robust stand against Tokyo and its claims on Dokdo.

Explaining the historical evidence, President Roh said the islets were forcibly taken by Japan during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-1905 "Using the war as a pretext, Japan gradually seized Korea`s sovereignty and land, including Dokdo," said the president.

Meanwhile, talks are scheduled for next month to demarcate the territorial waters between the two nations, but experts are doubtful of progress.

Previous negotiations all collapsed with both sides flatly refusing to give up claims to Dokdo.

By Kim Ji-hyun

(Korea Herald 2005-4-28)