By Kim Se-jeong
An opposition lawmaker has sent a letter of complaint to the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, in response to protests raised by Tokyo over his trip to Kuril Islands.
Rep. Jang Se-hwan of theDemocraticParty visited the Kuril Islands earlier this week with two colleagues ― Rep. Kang Chang-il and Rep. Moon Hak-jin.
“Our trip was legitimate parliamentarian activity. A complaint from Japan is an intervention against Korean sovereignty,” the letter said.
The response is the latest move in a tit-for-tat spat over the visit. The islands are the subject of a territorial dispute between Russia and Japan. Korea and Japan also have a sovereignty dispute over the Dokdo Islets in the East Sea. Ownership of the Senkaku Islands, known as the Diaoyu Islands in Chinese, is also disputed between Tokyo and Beijing.
According to an aide to Jang, the DP lawmakers were on a four-day fact-finding mission to observe how the disputed territory was being governed.
“The idea was conceived and funded by the lawmakers themselves,” the aide told The Korea Times, and they had no intention of provoking Japan.
“I understand fully where Japan is coming from. Yet, the dispute over the islands is between Russia and Japan, and as a third party, Koreans should be able to visit without a problem.”
The Japanese Embassy did not make any immediate response to Jang’s letter.
On Tuesday, Japanese Ambassador Masatoshi Muto lodged a protest with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Speaking with the First Vice Foreign Minister Park Suk-hwan, Muto said, “I hope the same thing won’t happen again.”