Tension rises between Tokyo and Seoul, over two small islands
The objects of contention are the Dokdo-Takeshima islands, less than half a square kilometer, and claimed by both countries. Since 1965, the question has periodically resurfaced to poison relations.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - Tempers have flared up again between Japan and South Korea over the sovereignty of the islands that are called Dokdo in Seoul, and Takeshima in Tokyo. The islands (0.39 square kilometers in total) are equidistant from the coasts of the two countries that claim to own them. Rather than anything to be found on the islands, what is of interest is the sea bed beneath them, which could contain energy deposits.

The dispute between the two governments has been going on for more than 40 years. In 1965, during negotiations for the normalization of relations between the two countries, the problem of ownership of the islands was revived, and the talks conducted since 1996 to establish the maritime borders were interrupted in 2000. Currently the islands are "inhabited" by about fifty South Korean policeman.

What has added fuel to the fire is the decision in Japan to include the territorial claim in its directives for teachers, which was followed by Seoul's refusal to examine the question of sovereignty over the islands during the recent ASEAN meeting in Singapore.

As for the sovereignty of the two islands, according to Professor Mark Selden of Cornell University, "the information in the historical archives supports Korea. They can substantiate possession since the time of the Silla dynasty (8th century)". Japanese diplomacy is trying to override the historical argument by presenting a second document according to which the kingdom of Korea ceded possession of the two islands to Japan in 1905. It's a cryptic argument. It is true that the annexation of the peninsula to Japan took place in 1910, but in the early years of the 20th century the Japanese imperial government had already deprived the kingdom of Korea of any power in the area of foreign policy.