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    » 08/10/2012, 00.00


    Lee Myung-bak visits islands claimed by Tokyo and Seoul

    The waters around the Dokdo (or Takeshima, in Japanese) Islands are rich in fish. Japan recalls its ambassador in Seoul and protests to South Korean ambassador in Tokyo. So far, Lee had always pushed for South Korean-Japanese rapprochement despite Japan's past violent rule in the Korean Peninsula. Tonight, South Korea and Japan meet in Olympic football match.

    Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) - South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visited a group of islands south of the Korean Peninsula, causing tensions with Japan, which claims them.

    Known as Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese, the islands are almost halfway between the two nations, and are claimed by the sides. The waters are rich in fish.

    Lee reached the area by plane. South Korea has had a small coastguard detachment on the islands since 1954.

    The whole area was on high alert as the president's visit is highly charged given the conflicting claims.

    Japan responded to the visit by recalling its ambassador to Seoul and strongly protesting to the South Korean ambassador in Tokyo.

    Many in South Korea are wondering why Lee chose to visit the islands at this time, especially since he has always been in favour of friendly relations with Japan, even though many South Koreans are still suffering the effect of Japan's rule in Korea (1910-1945).

    The only answer is that Lee, as he nears the end of his mandate, sought to make a "patriotic" gesture to boost his popularity, this despite the fact that he cannot seek re-election.

    Japan has always insisted that the dispute over the Dokdo/Takeshima Islands should be settled via diplomacy.

    Coincidentally, Lee's action and Japan's response come a few hours before the Olympic bronze medal match between South Korea and Japan in men's football tonight in London.

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    See also

    07/09/2012 CHINA - JAPAN - SOUTH KOREA
    Winds of peace between Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul over disputed islands die down
    At the APEC summit in Vladivostok, the meeting between Chinese President Hu and Japanese PM Noda is called off after Tokyo announces its intention to buy the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, which both countries claim. Meanwhile, Seoul sends warships (on an exercise) near the Dokdo/Takeshima Rocks.

    28/04/2006 SOUTH KOREA - JAPAN
    South Korea and Japan nearly go to war over two islets

    Takeshima to the Japanese and Dokdo to the Koreans, the two islands, 0.39 square kilometers, are claimed by both countries. The confrontation has become bitter.

    03/07/2006 SOUTH KOREA – JAPAN
    Diplomatic tug-of-war between Tokyo and Seoul over Dokdo-Takeshima Islands
    South Korea sends ship to contested islets in the latest episode of a series of diplomatic provocations over .39 Km2 of land.

    18/08/2015 SOUTH KOREA-JAPAN
    Dokdo, first "Mass for Peace" on islands disputed between Seoul and Tokyo
    The parish of Dodong, located east of Ulleung island, dedicated the statue of the Virgin which is on the atoll "to peace in the region". From now on, says the pastor, there will be a function of the Eucharist every May "to pray and to silence the guns."

    23/04/2008 JAPAN – SOUTH KOREA
    Japan visit by South Korea’s president to start a new era
    Political, economic and tourist ties between the two peoples are blooming again after years of neglect and a troubled history. South Korea will participate in the G8 Summit on Japan’s Hokkaido Island. Seoul and Tokyo are to work together in Africa.

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