South Korea has decided to actively enhance the habitability of a disputed set of islets in the Sea of Japan also claimed by Japan, including building a marine hotel there, a Seoul daily reported Monday.
The government and the ruling Grand National Party agreed on the measures to enhance the habitability of the islets, called Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan, on Sunday at a high-level meeting of officials from both sides, according to the Dong-a Ilbo.
They also decided to move away from South Korea's so-called ''quiet diplomacy'' with Japan toward a more active approach, the report said.
Along with the hotel construction, the measures include building a comprehensive marine base, ensuring accessibility to citizens, creating a permanent residential village and a Dokdo experience center, and building a Dokdo museum in the Seoul metropolitan area, it said.
The two sides decided to replace the current designation of the measures to ensure South Korea's sovereignty over the islets from ''measures to secure effective control over the Dokdo islets'' to ''measures to protect territorial rights over the Dokdo islets'' since the former designation presupposes a territorial dispute, according to the report.
Japan recently decided to refer to the islets in a teaching guideline for junior high schools, drawing protests from South Korea.
Meanwhile, South Korean Prime Minister Han Seung-Soo on Sunday accused Japan of damaging bilateral ties and putting regional peace at risk with its renewed claim to the islets.
Han, meeting with ruling party lawmakers, rejected Tokyo's new education guidelines calling for "a deeper understanding" of Japan's claims to the islets.
"This is not only damaging the amicable South Korea-Japan relationship... but also undermining peace in Northeast Asia by letting the future generations repeat the distorted history," Han said.
The ruling Grand National Party (GNP) said in a statement after the talks with Han that Seoul would make the rocky islets sufficiently habitable for people to live on, helping to thwart Tokyo's territorial claims.
"The party, the government and the (presidential) Blue House reached a concensus that it is very important to make Dokdo inhabited islands as one of the concrete countermeasures," it said, without elaborating.
Also discussed at the talks was the possibility of exploring minerals in the seabeds, allowing wider public access, building a maritime hotel to promote tourism and sending marines to the islets, it said.
In protest, South Korea last week recalled its ambassador to Japan and rejected Japan's proposal for foreign ministerial talks on the sidelines of a regional security forum in Singapore this coming week.
Angry South Koreans have almost daily held protest rallies at the heavily-guarded Japanese embassy in Seoul, with some last week beheading live pheasants, Japan's national bird.
In the southern city of Busan, an association of civic groups launched a campaign to boycott Japanese cars. The Seoul metro has withdrawn a series of adverts promoting Japanese condoms.
South Korea stations a small unit of maritime police on the rugged and treeless islands.
Japan claimed them in 1905 after winning a war with Russia in the region. It went on to annex the entire Korean peninsula from 1910 until its 1945 defeat in World War II.
"Dokdo belongs to Korea historically, geographically and in terms of international laws," Han said reiterating Seoul's position.
"There is no question about our sovereign rights to Dokdo because we effectively control it."
Han said Seoul would work out a long-term strategic plan to "further strengthen the effective control" of the islets, calling for bipartisan support from parliament in handling the issue.© Wire reports