In escalating tensions between Tokyo and Seoul over South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's recent visit to a disputed islet claimed by both, Japan on Tuesday announced the indefinite postponement of the annual Vice Ministerial-level meeting with South Korea scheduled for next week.
Internal Affairs Minister Tatsuo Kawabata announced the postponement after a Cabinet meeting without spelling out the reasons. The meeting on local administration issues is held every year by the Ministry and South Korea's Public Administration and Security Ministry. The four-day meeting is originally scheduled to begin next Tuesday in Tokyo.
The move was presumed to be in protest against Lee's recent visit to Takeshima in the Sea of Japan which South Korea also claims its own calling them Dokdo islands.
The Cabinet also decided to quickly consider additional counter-measures to Lee's August 10 visit to the disputed islands despite Japan's protest.
Japan and South Korea are two key U.S. allies in the Asia-Pacific region hosting American military bases with soldiers on their soils.
Terming Lee's visit to Takeshima as "extremely regrettable," Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told the Cabinet meeting that Japan needed to take a resolute stand on the visit, Japanese media reported. Finance Minister Jun Azumi said he had postponed a meeting with his South Korean counterpart scheduled for later this month. Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano and National Policy Minister Motohisa Furukawa also reported deferring of individual meetings with South Korean Ministers.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told reporters that the territorial dispute over the Takeshima islands should be resolved diplomatically and peacefully.
The Japanese government will write to South Korea asking it to agree on a plan to jointly lodge the territorial dispute with the U.N.-backed International Court of Justice in The Hague. Japan also seeks settlement of the dispute through mediation by a third country based on the official documents exchanged between Japan and South Korea on the settlement of bilateral conflicts, the reports said.
by RTT Staff Writer
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