Fundamental Human Rights

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Japan Has NO Right to Dokdo !

Posted by terres on August 29, 2008

Time to End Japan Imperial Aspirations!

S Korean emotions run high over island dispute

By HYUNG-JIN KIM – August 27,2008

SOUTH KOREA-CONTROLLED DOKDO (AP) — A rifle-toting South Korean stands guard on the remote and rocky islet of Dokdo, gazing out over the expanse of blue ocean toward Japan for any potential challenge to his country’s control.

Kim Eun-taek is part of a 40-member police contingent that has been on high alert since mid-July, when long-simmering tensions between the two countries over the volcanic outcroppings located roughly halfway between South Korea and Japan, spiked anew.

“I always hated Japan and I’ve come to hate it more these days,” said Kim, whose unit is tasked with safeguarding South Korea’s control of the islets, which Japan also claims and calls Takeshima.

A South Korean coast guard boat passes by Dokdo islets, known as Takeshima in Japan, in South Korea, Monday, Aug. 25. 2008. The dispute heated up following Japan’s announcement it would recommend that a government teaching manual refer to its claim to the area, which is mostly uninhabited but rich in marine life. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

The dispute heated up following Japan’s announcement it would recommend that a government teaching manual refer to its claim to the area, which is mostly uninhabited but rich in marine resources.

South Korea and Japan have been arguing about the islets for decades in a dispute made all the more complex by Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean peninsula from 1910-1945.

No incidents, such as the appearance of Japanese coast guard ships, which South Korea says sometimes sail near the islets, were reported Monday during a brief trip for foreign media organizations arranged by the South Korean government.

A group of seagulls peacefully flew in bright, sunny skies over the territory, composed of two main islets and 89 other rocks and reefs. Besides the police, the only civilian residents are an elderly South Korean couple.

“I explode with anger whenever they say it’s their territory,” Kim Sung-do, 68, who fishes for a living with his wife, said of Japan’s claim.

It is hard to overstate the emotional impact the dispute over the tiny islets — which if placed in New York’s Central Park would occupy just 0.5 percent of its total area — has for South Koreans.

Dokdo’s location and distance from nearest landfalls. (Source)

During this year’s spat, the country temporarily recalled its ambassador from Tokyo and increased the number of coast guard boats patrolling the islets to three from two. Civic activists staged near-daily protests in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul and South Korean businesses took out newspaper ads backing the government’s position.

From South Korea’s perspective, the islets were the first Korean territory to be taken by Japan, when they were incorporated into Shimane prefecture in 1905, five years before the entire peninsula was colonized.

Tokyo has cited historical evidence it says back Japan’s sovereignty since at least the 17th century. South Korea has countered that it has far older historical evidence.

South Korean experts say the squabbling is not a simple territorial dispute but an emotional issue bound up with history that can affect the future of bilateral relations.

“Japan’s past wrongdoing and its colonial rule are condensed in these tiny islets,” said Ha Jong-moon, a Japan expert at Hanshin University near Seoul.

North Korea has also joined South Korea’s criticism of the Japanese moves, despite rising tension with the South over its government’s hard-line policy on the communist country.

In Japan, the dispute appears not to arouse anywhere near the same level of public emotion as in South Korea, though it remains a favorite cause of the vocal right wing and among fishermen on Japan’s western coast who want greater access to the rich waters between Japan and the Korean peninsula.

The Japanese government says the timing of its announcement on the teaching manual had already been determined long in advance, calling the latest tension with South Korea “clearly undesirable.”

Right-wing groups in Japan protest against Korean policy regarding Dokdo. (Source)

“Japan is of the view that both sides should respond calmly to this issue recognizing the differences in positions between our countries as differences in positions,” the Japanese Foreign Ministry said in e-mailed answers to questions posed by The Associated Press.

Two major newspapers in South Korea have published war game scenarios, suggesting Japan would eventually defeat South Korea for control of the islets, owing to its superior air and naval power.

Some members of South Korea’s ruling party have proposed permanently stationing marines there.

Any chance of an armed clash appears remote, at least in the near future, in view of broader economic, trade and cultural ties, as well as the countries’ cooperation in trying to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear programs.

Still, Japanese coast guard patrol boats approach the islets about 70-90 times a year without sufficiently explaining their purpose, South Korea’s coast guard says.

Following last month’s dispute, in particular, Japanese ships have increasingly appeared near the islets at unusual times, such as before dawn or even when a high wave advisory was issued, said Kwag Young-han, skipper of the Sambong-ho, a 5,000-ton-class South Korean coast guard vessel patrolling the islets.

All eventually moved away, though most did not respond to South Korean radio messages, said Kwag, whose ship is equipped with two 20mm Vulcan cannons, 37 M60 machine guns and a helicopter.

Kim, the police guard, said he is proud to serve his country, but acknowledged duty on the islets has its challenges.

“The hardest thing about serving here is loneliness,” the black-clad Kim said near the lighthouse.

[Article submitted by a reader ]

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