Japan has urged South Korea to join with it in taking their territorial dispute over islands in the Sea of Japan to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague.
Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba summoned South Korean Ambassador to Tokyo Shin Gak-su on Friday and lodged a fresh protest over South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's visit last week to the disputed islands of Takeshima.
Gemba said the South Korean-held islands are Japan's inherent territory and Japan planned to refer the dispute to the ICJ and propose official third-party mediation. However, the Seoul envoy reiterated his country's claim to the islands, which South Korea calls Dokdo, Japanese media reported.
Mediation at the U.N.-backed court requires the consent of all parties to a dispute. Japan asked South Korea to take the dispute to the ICJ twice in the past in 1954 and 1962, but Seoul refused both times.
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura urged South Korea to accept the move this time. He said South Korea was an important member of the United Nations, and espoused a goal of becoming a global player. Fujimura said Seoul should agree to seek mediation if it believed its claim of sovereignty was legitimate.
Diplomatic spats over the dispute and the South Korean Presidents demand for an apology from Japan's Emperor for its colonial rule of the Korean peninsula have heightened tension between the two staunch U.S. allies in the Asia-Pacific, with Japan temporarily recalling its Ambassador from Seoul after Lee's visit on August 10. The Japanese government says it is determined to seek a peaceful settlement to the problem under international law.
Japan is also involved in a similar dispute with China over an islet in the East China Sea to which both countries have staked their claims. Japanese Coast Guard detained a group of 14 Chinese activists from Hong Kong for "illegally entering" Senkaku group of islands, known as Diaoyu in China, on Wednesday.
China has urged Japan to release the activists immediately and ensure their safe return to Hong Kong.
by RTT Staff Writer
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