politics

Lee says Japan lawmakers in danger if they visit disputed island

41 Comments

South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak has warned Japanese lawmakers against visiting a site near islands claimed by both nations, saying their safety cannot be guaranteed, an official said Wednesday.

The neighbors are facing a renewed escalation in a decades-old territorial row over the Seoul-controlled Dokdo islands in the Sea of Japan (East Sea), which are known as Takeshima in Japan.

The latest row began when flag carrier Korean Air operated a test flight of its new A380 aircraft over Dokdo in June. Tokyo in response ordered public servants not to use Korean Air for a month.

Four lawmakers from Japan's conservative opposition Liberal Democratic Party also announced a plan to visit Ulleung island, the closest South Korean territory to Dokdo -- sparking anger among Seoul officials and activists.

Lee, at a cabinet meeting Tuesday, ordered officials to advise Tokyo that Seoul "cannot guarantee the lawmakers' safety" and to urge them to cancel the visit, a presidential spokesman said.

He did not elaborate on the safety concerns.

Several civic groups have held protests outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul, and some pledged to try to block the lawmakers from landing at Ulleung island.

South Korea, which was colonized by Japan from 1910-1945, has sought to strengthen its control over the islets after Japan in March authorised new school textbooks reasserting its claims to them.

Wednesday's Korea Herald in an editorial called the upcoming visit an unfriendly gesture but said Korea should ignore it rather than try to block it.

There was "little reason to feel particularly uncomfortable when the Japanese group steps on Ulleung-do (island) as tourists," it said.

"If they engage in any political action on the island, then they may be treated accordingly."

© 2011 Agence France-Presse

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

41 Comments
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A not so thinly veiled threat? WTF is going on?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Nice bit of provocation there Japan. No doubt trying to stir the pot and if something does happen no doubt will play the victim card for all its worth.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"Four lawmakers from Japan’s conservative opposition Liberal Democratic Party also announced a plan to visit Ulleung island..."

So, despite being childish, what's the purpose of the visit there? NOTHING. South Korea flying over their own islands with their flagship carrier is understandable if it in fact is an easier path, but lawmakers going to visit a pile of rocks?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Good way to detract attention from the ongoing nuclear disaster and spread of cancer causing contaminated food.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

I like Lee but he overstepped here with these comments.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I think Asagao is right. This is extremely counterproductive since the government is trying to get foreign tourists to come back. They'll play up this and the Chinese train accident to take people's minds off of official incompetence and intentional neglect of public health in Japan.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I don't think the purpose of this whole thing is to distract from what's happening in Japan but a direct response to SKorea flying over the islands. I DO agree that it provides, along with the China accident, an excuse to distract, though. Actually, I got rather irritated with a female friend of mine this morning who LAUGHED about the accident and said something like, "Well, obviously they didn't still Japanese technology after all", adding after I tried to change the subject that that's what she read somebody had posted in the media.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Its not a warning but a threat.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Under the category "ill considered words," these remarks seem either very poorly considered, or designed to deliberately rachet up the tensions. Either way, both sides need to cool things off. There are too many shared interests to let this rock (and its surrounding mineral/fishing resources) drive relations.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Seriously there are other things more important happening at the moment than this

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Oh good grief, are they still arguing over those rocks?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Graham: "Under the category "ill considered words," these remarks seem either very poorly considered, or designed to deliberately rachet up the tensions."

As opposed to the proposed visit by lawmakers? I definitely agree that both sides need to cool off and stop the rhetoric, but really there is ZERO need for the lawmakers to go to the islands -- especially when they always talk about how 'regrettable' it is when Russian politicians do the same with the Kuriles.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I would love to see SK making the lawmakers unsafe. The aftermath will be very interesting for SK.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Lee is a secret member of DPRK communist party! There are lots of these secret members in ROK

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

still printing something so controversial in school textbooks seems a little bigotted-as if the whole of history is in there anyway, sheesh, skipping that section cant have hurt rather than stirring the pot......testy. Well so be it. Tests need to run both ways between these 2 countries in my opinion. Danger as is in no more kimuchee? Or heads up for skinny gals who have no hips, and the trend.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

After the signing of the San Francisco treaty, Japan became more concerned about the Dokdo islands because the 1982 Law of the Sea came into force in 1944. It had the provisions of an Exclusive Economic Zone up to 200 nautical miles, revising an earlier limit of 12 nautical miles. Therefore Japan realized the importance of Dokdo, which was rich in natural resources in and around especially the hydrate oil. Eventually a systematic campaign to claim it started and we see this tradition continue as the four lawmakers from Japan consider visiting the islands. Japan's repeated claim can only be derived as a effort to become a normal state. Hence Japan's on going claim over Dokdo island does not denote a territorial dispute. It characterizes Japan's aggressive approach to foreign policy. This issue has been settled in favor of South Korea for all practical purpose. If you asked the Russian's, they would say that's a silly question. Of course it's belongs to South Korea. Majority of the leading scholars of Japanese History will even tell you that Japan has no sovereignty over the islands. Therefore Japan should accept this matter as being closed and acquire a better status in the community of Asian power.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I wonder what the American response to this is.

Maybe Lee is also in on this charade to distract attention away from Fukushima and the contamination of food produced all over Japan. Granted this will also garner more points for him locally in SK.

If the 4 LDP members being sent are high-ranking types, nothing will come of it except how courageous they are in fighting against their hated enemies, the Koreans. If they're low-ranking stooges groomed for taking abuse, uh-oh.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

There have been other islands that the UN said belonged to Japan that Korea set up shop in. Korea took the first provocative move with the fly over. Now threats are being made.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

a common 'disclaimer' from SKorea, click to "accept" and move on, Shouganai !

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Ordering public servants not to use Korean Air is tantamount racism. This is a problem for politicians to solve: blocking civil servants from keeping good relations by using Korean Air or other Korean industry/products is damaging relations. What's next? Japan disagrees with the US so Japanese citizens should be ordered not to go to the US? This is one groups issue, but making it many other people's issue too.

Japan sending people to visit the disputed island is merely inciting more trouble. Unless they had reason to visit the place before, there is no reason to visit now - publicly not anyway.

Japan, Korea, China etc. are all chicken. If they want an island - fight for it. Let the winner have the spoils instead of whining about it.
-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I have one question. I wonder how the Japanese would react if China or Taiwan sent politicians to visit Diaoyu Islands?

Japan needs to stop whining like a little baby everytime something happens to land it claims as its own. Unless they have possession of the island it doesnt belong to them and stamping their feet and having a hissy fit just makes them look childish.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Not to be a nitpicker, but there is a big difference between "their safety cannot be guaranteed" and lawmakers will be "in danger" which seems to be nowhere except in the title of the article. Also unsaid is "You're toast if you visit."

Still, if the South Korean president's view is that these are Korean islands, he should be able to guarantee the safety of foreign visitors, and he is not helping his argument. Better would be to have a welcoming parade, with signs saying, "Welcome to our islands!"

0 ( +2 / -2 )

those are japanese islands

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

basit36,

those are japanese islands

Given the South Korean presence on them l dont see that l see them as a SK possession.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The Japn-ROK alliance was very fragile and very rough! Thaey were never friends and so uneasy 'allies' ! Thats why the demise of US dominace of west pacific is a very matter of when! Good job president Lee.....absolutely no compromise with those LDP and remember to keen on the words you said! Keep bringing up those bitter memories of imperial Japan's colonial rule of Korea, theyw ere the one that made thousand of Korean families seperated!

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I like Japanese politicians, like this LDP minor faction, they might do anything to embarass the Kan's government! Japan has a very 'admirable tradition' that lower stream politicians could act whatever they like to screw the central government!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Spidapig: "I have one question. I wonder how the Japanese would react if China or Taiwan sent politicians to visit Diaoyu Islands?"

Well, they certainly wouldn't DO anything except form a panel to decide to do nothing, but you'd certainly hear the word 'regrettable' a lot.

basit: "those are japanese islands"

Actually, they're not. They're inhabited by and maintained by SKorea, with the world recognizing that fact. Only Japan disputes ownership -- SK does not, which shows that Japan has doubts. Even if there's a dispute in the minds of others, time is on SK's side -- it's been there's since ancient times and it always will be, despite Japanese whining and then whining about other islands using the OPPOSITE reasons.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

smithinjapan

Well, they certainly wouldn't DO anything except form a panel to decide to do nothing, but you'd certainly hear the word 'regrettable' a lot.

Yes that would be extremely regrettable wouldn't it? They would also probably send the coastguard in and someone would end up getting rammed. Then they could complain for a few months and take everyones mind of the contaminated meat

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

boring !!!!!

Its not japans island. Sorry !!!!! Japan has over 1000 islands. They don`t need 1, 2or 3 more. Give it up !!!!!!!

Please visit Kyushu and you will see for yourself. Take a boat tour off of Sasebo. You`ll see what I mean.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

People only care because of potential for oil.

What I really hate is Japan's way of saying "these are our islands" by teaching our children, so they grow up thinking they are Japan's island and what goto war over it?

Can't the people just sit down and work it out?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The UN said those islands were Japanese. Now is the UN wrong?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The UN said those islands were Japanese.

I don't think the UN said that. If they did, please provide a link.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

why not visiting Kurile islands?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Don't know why either of these countries are disputing over islands which actually don't belong to either of them.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Why don't they listen to what Mr. Gerry Bevers has to say and pick a thorn out of the bilateral relation and settle the issue or strike a bargain as early as possible? The gist of the story is that Dokdo or Takeshima was not Jukdo or Usand or any part of Ulleung island.

http://dokdo-or-takeshima.blogspot.com/

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If there is zero need for he J-lawmakers to go there there was zero need for Korea Air to fly over it as well. Poor chioce of words o Lee's part because now if something unintentionally did happen it would become a SKorean liability. Doesn't he have any legal counsel?

"basit: "those are japanese islands" "Actually, they're not. They're inhabited by and maintained by SKorea, with the world recognizing that fact."

Whos is this world? They are inhabited and maintained by SKOrea because SKOrea unilaterally occupied them. The same way the USSR took thje southern Kuriles after Japan surrendered. Or the way China unilatreally occupied Tibet. So what countries consider the liancourt rocks as SKorean, and not territory under dispute?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Lee might be right to take a hard line. This is so typical of thin hearing problem of J-goverment that is always lost in translation. Does Japan really want a better relations with Korea or they want to continue the bickering about the island claims in which 99 percent of the Japanese citizens could care less. By announcing that they are visiting the island, is there any benefit to people of Japan? No wonder, the progress of better relations with Korea will never improve.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As long as there is still a sizable voter demographic in Japan that is still anti-Korea for political reasons existing you'll have J-politicians positioning to acquire those votes in various ways (diversion of public attention away from nuclear problems at home being a bonus). Any improvement in relations with Korea and China and you stand to alienate that demographic. Are there any J-politicians courageous enough to do that?

Think big picture, guys. Just what are some of the underlying reasons for this charade at this time of national crisis?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

hoipolloi: "I wonder what the American response to this is."

Well, a few years back they took away the status of the islands being 'maintained by SK', after which they quickly gave the status back, which infuriated Japan. So for all intensive purposes they have stated that the land is administered, and therefore the property of, SK.

OssanAmerica: "If there is zero need for he J-lawmakers to go there there was zero need for Korea Air to fly over it as well."

Illogical argument. If it provides a shorter flight path then it makes things easier for the airline. Regardless, the islands are administered and inhabited by SK. If a boat goes there to deliver supplies to the residents, is that a provocative (and 'regrettable') act? So why is flying over land lived on and maintained by SK? The two acts are not really comparable except in the minds of people who seek provocation.

"Poor chioce of words o Lee's part because now if something unintentionally did happen it would become a SKorean liability. Doesn't he have any legal counsel?"

I don't think he needs or would need it in the event of an 'accident'. Despite the provocative nature of his wording, he was rather careful to use the passive voice, and it would only make them liable to those who believe in Japan's claims. Lee could just as easily pat himself on the back and say he DID warn them but they ignored the sage advice.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@smithy, hello, you are doing? First of all, you should think about this concern taking into account a realistic, humble and proper point of view (no like brainwashed, please):

This 'threat' to Japanese lawmakers could provoke a Japan vs S.Korea's INTERNATIONAL TRIAL and you, as SKorean, know what could happen... since Takeshima is obviously a JAPANESES TERRITORY (stolen by South Korea).

NOTE 1: The worst thing is, you can't accept the bad interpretation of old korean maps (which is even worse). Anyway, I believe you know how wrong you are, it's like how you guys promote korean products trying to damage the Japanese makers' image around the Internet (blogs, youtube, etc.).

NOTE 2: And you (vank) should stop writing emails to the whole world about the Japan Sea, making a WRONG relation between the 'war' and the name of the JAPAN SEA, so, stop naming that since you don't even know your culture (sad to see a non-asian guy who knows more than you about your own country). Beautiful groups against your lies are being created and I love them (I support them)

You know why SKorea doesn't want any International Trial related to Takeshima and the Sea of Japan, so as you probably know, this 'threat' can be and I HOPE SO a really dangerous issue for your country (I really hope/except to see how people discover the real SKorean face indeed (no all of you)).

In addition, and before talking nonsense (like 'this is a provocation', crying in front of the world to stab them after all), think about the money spent by VANK and the SOUTH KOREAN government (vank is a south korea gov-organization and totally supported by the South Korean government) to publish rubbish in the New York Times every year, videos in middle of the Times Square, etc.

Are you sure what Japanese lawmakers are doing IS A PROVOCATION? I don't think so my man.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

This 'threat' to Japanese lawmakers could provoke a Japan vs S.Korea's INTERNATIONAL TRIAL and you, as SKorean, know what could happen... since Takeshima is obviously a JAPANESES TERRITORY (stolen by South Korea).NOTE 1: The worst thing is, you can't accept the bad interpretation of old korean maps (which is even worse). Anyway, I believe you know how wrong you are, it's like how you guys promote korean products trying to damage the Japanese makers' image around the Internet (blogs, youtube, etc.).NOTE 2: And you (vank) should stop writing emails to the whole world about the Japan Sea, making a WRONG relation between the 'war' and the name of the JAPAN SEA, so, stop naming that since you don't even know your culture (sad to see a non-asian guy who knows more than you about your own country). Beautiful groups against your lies are being created and I love them (I support them)You know why SKorea doesn't want any International Trial related to Takeshima and the Sea of Japan, so as you probably know, this 'threat' can be and I HOPE SO a really dangerous issue for your country (I really hope/except to see how people discover the real SKorean face indeed (no all of you)).n addition, and before talking nonsense (like 'this is a provocation', crying in front of the world to stab them after all), think about the money spent by VANK and the SOUTH KOREAN government (vank is a south korea gov-organization and totally supported by the South Korean government) to publish rubbish in the New York Times every year, videos in middle of the Times Square, etc.Are you sure what Japanese lawmakers are doing IS A PROVOCATION? I don't think so my man.

Cool story bro. But guess what? Koreans can go to the Islands whenever they want while Japanese cant. Thats a fact.

This is all a political game. Because the Japanese government boycotted Korean Airlines for flying their first Airbus over the islands, the Korean government decided, back at ya. Despite what you may think, the Japanese government is using this issue as a poitical tool despite knowing that they wil never get the islands. The Korean government also selfishly uses this as a "patriotic" political propaganda of defending thier territory, except they know that they hold total control over the islands.

Its silly and childish how the Korean and Japanese government are playing political games with this just to get more votes or supporters, but thats how politics work. No matter how many maps or proof either side tries to use to convince each other, the persistent fact is this: no other country, especially the US, is taking sides, and as long as this happens, Korea has total admistrative control(both military and financial control) over the islands.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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