An American elementary school teacher said Sunday that the United States should designate the Dokdo islets as South Korean territory.
Mark Lovmo, a teacher at a Minneapolis primary school, is now operating an independent Web site about Dokdo, which is also claimed by Japan.
According to Yonhap News, Lovmo supported his argument by saying that "Japan's 1905 incorporation of Dokdo did not follow accepted protocols, and was done almost in total secret... the Japanese made sure that Korea had no ability to dispute the claim at the time."
In July, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) recategorized Dokdo as being "undesignated sovereignty" in its database, a shift from the islets' original designation as being controlled by South Korea.
The move infuriated South Koreans, many of whom still harbor bitter memories from Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule of Korea.
Shortly afterward, the BGN reinstated South Korea's sovereignty over the islets at the orders of U.S. President George W. Bush, just ahead of his trip to Seoul in early August.
Lovmo, however, said that the BGN's reinstatement of Dokdo's status does not mean Washington recognizes South Korea's territorial sovereignty.
"Although the Web site was changed back to the previous wording, the way the U.S. has always interpreted its obligations under the mutual defense treaties with both Japan and the Republic of Korea has had the same effect as calling Dokdo an island of 'Undesignated Sovereignty,'" he said in an email interview with Yonhap.
Japan took control of South Korea's Dokdo islets in 1905, soon after winning a war with Russia in the East Sea and forcing Korea to sign a treaty nullifying its diplomatic sovereignty. Japan's colonial era ended when the country was defeated in World War II.