Seoul won't accept Tokyo's move to take issue of Dokdo to int'l court
South Korea will never accept a move by Japan to take the issue of Dokdo to the International Court of Justice, a senior Seoul official said Saturday, as diplomatic tensions with Tokyo heightened over the unprecedented visit by President Lee Myung-bak to the islets.
A day after Lee's visit to Dokdo, which Japan has long claimed as its own, Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba told reporters in Tokyo that his government was considering asking the international court to resolve the issue.
"The reason why the Japanese side is considering filing a suit with the International Court of Justice is to make the Dokdo issue an international dispute," the government official told Yonhap News Agency by telephone.
"Our government's basic stance is that we will not accept it because Dokdo is clearly our territory," the official said on the condition of anonymity.
South Korea sees no reason to take the issue of Dokdo before the international court because the islets are Korean territory no matter what happens and the Japanese move is unrealistic because Seoul must consent before the issue can be sent to the court, the official said.
Lee became the first South Korean president ever to visit the islets, which lie closer to South Korea in the body of water between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, underscoring the nation's territorial control of Dokdo that has long been a thorn in relations between the two countries.
Gemba told reporters on Saturday that he was reviewing "measures designed to peacefully resolve conflicts on the basis of international law, including bringing the case to the International Court of Justice," according to a report by the Kyodo news agency.
Also on Saturday, the South Korean consulate office in Hiroshima was hit by a brick in an apparent attack that might be related to Lee's visit to Dokdo, consulate officials there said.
A motorcyclist wearing a helmet threw a brick through the glass entrance door of the consulate office in Hiroshima, leaving a hole in the door. No one was hurt.
In the wake of the incident, Seoul's foreign ministry has asked Japan to step up security at nine Korean diplomatic missions in Japan, the official said.
"We also asked the Japanese police for cooperation with regard to the safety of Korean nationals and tourists," the official said.
Japan has long laid claims to Dokdo in school textbooks, government reports and other ways, undercutting better ties between the neighboring nations.
South Koreans see those claims as amounting to denying Korea's rights because the country regained independence from 1910-45 Japanese colonial rule and reclaimed sovereignty over its territory, which includes Dokdo and many other islands around the Korean Peninsula.
South Korea has kept a small police detachment on Dokdo since 1954.
The territorial claims have been viewed by South Koreans as a sign Japan has not fully repented for its imperialist past, along with Tokyo's refusal to address long-running grievances of elderly Korean women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops during World War II. (Yonhap)