Dokdo, first "Mass for Peace" on islands disputed between Seoul and Tokyo
Seoul (AsiaNews) - A "Mass for Peace", held in order to silence the weapons and bring peace to East Asia, could restart dialogue between Seoul and Tokyo over disputed islands in the Sea of Japan. Convinced of this Fr. Son Seong-ho, pastor of the Dodong Church celebrated chaired the first-ever Mass on the atoll at the center of a diplomatic dispute between Korea and Japan.
Dokdo, said Fr. Son, "should be the center of silent peace, not the center of a dispute. We will continue to pray until these islands become a zone of peace. Reading the story of my parish, I realized that we had never celebrated a Mass here. But from now on we are hoping to do one every month of May, under the sign of Virgin".
The priest also blessed the statue of Mary that was built on Dokdo in 2010, and placed peace in East Asia under her protection. 65 people, religious and faithful, joined him for what they described as a "historic moment". In fact celebration coincided with the 70th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japanese rule.
The islands - Dokdo to Koreans, Takeshima to the Japanese - are almost equidistant from the two nations and the center of a dispute because the sea around them is rich in fishing. On 10 August 2012, the then South Korean President Lee Myung-bak arrived by plane in the area, manned by Koreans since 1954, and visited the group of atolls. A military alert was placed on the entire area for a visit of great symbolic value; many Koreans, in fact, still today suffer from memories of the violent Japanese invasion between 1910 and 1945. In response, Japan has recalled its ambassador in Seoul and formally protested to the Korean ambassador in Tokyo.
Japan and South Korea are linked by very close economic relations and the common front against North Korea and its nuclear arsenal, considered a threat to the entire region. However, these are differences that are rooted in history and still decisively influence the relations.