By Michael Ha
Japan's announcement Monday claiming sovereignty over the Dokdo islets in new teaching manuals for middle schools may just be a first step in a carefully orchestrated action plan, political observers said Wednesday.
There are signs emerging that indicate a carefully coordinated action plan among Japanese officials and ministries to claim territorial rights over the islets, they said.
Some urged the Korean government to steer away from emotional responses and develop a comprehensive countermeasure to refute Japan's claim.
The dispute involves a group of islets in the East Sea, called Dokdo. On Monday, the Japanese government revealed a plan to include in new teaching manuals for Japanese middle schools a territorial claim on those islets that are now under South Korean control.
Following Monday's announcement, Japan's Ministry of Education and Culture, the office that oversees revisions for teaching materials, said it would adopt new manuals by next year. Usually, such changes in manuals take four years to implement in schools.
It also unveiled a plan to update manuals for high schools as well. The office said it plans to make the revisions this year.
While Tokyo officials didn't specify whether they would include a claim over Dokdo, updated materials for high schools would most likely adopt the same guidelines used for middle schools, observers said.
Meanwhile, in the United States, the Library of Congress in Washington is holding off on a scheduled meeting to discuss whether it will drop the Korean name Dokdo in favor of the European name Liancourt Rocks.
The U.S. Library of Congress, the largest library in the world that also serves as a research division for Congress, has been mulling over whether it should stop using the name Dokdo in its authoritative guidelines distributed to libraries around the country. The name Liancourt Rocks comes from French travelers who first introduced the East Sea islets to Europe.
For the time being, the library is postponing the meeting until it gathers further information from various interested parties, according to Yonhap News. The report also said the library may feel this is not a proper time to discuss the highly sensitive topic.
``I understand that the library has delayed the discussion meeting in consideration of the sensitive timing when South Korea and Japan are embroiled in a diplomatic dispute over Dokdo islets,'' said a Library of Congress official, according to Yonhap.
Even in the online world, an increasing number of web sites are embracing the English name Liancourt Rocks over Dokdo.
Yonhap reported that as ``a result of Japanese lobbying,'' a growing number of Web sites and online references around the world are deciding to stop using the Korean name Dokdo when referring to the islets.''
Some of the major online dictionary sites and Internet portals that stopped using the name Dokdo include yahoo.com, reference.com, infoplease.com and aol.bartleby.com, Yonhap reported.