South Korea on Tuesday rejected Japan's proposal to jointly refer the dispute on Dokdo islands in the Sea of Japan to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) by dismissing it "not worth consideration."
Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan made the remarks at a parliamentary session hours before the Japanese government made the formal proposal to South Korea by sending a diplomatic document through its Embassy in Seoul, escalating diplomatic tensions between the two key U.S. allies in the Asia-Pacific region.
"Our stance is that there should not exist any territorial disputes over Dokdo because Dokdo is our territory," Kim told lawmakers. "Going to the ICJ is not worth consideration," he added.
"What Japan wants is to make Dokdo a disputed territory and referring the issue to the ICJ is met with such an intention," South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted Kim as saying.
Kim also warned that South Korea will take "stern measures (against Japan), because Dokdo is a Korean territory historically, geographically and under international laws," if Japan continues to raise an "unjustified" issue over Dokdo, which is called Takeshima islands in Japan.
He said the Japanese proposal was not feasible because it must secure South Korea's consent to have the issue heard at the U.N.-backed ICJ. Two previous proposals made by Japan in 1954 and 1962 were also instantly rejected.
Announcing the formal proposal in Tokyo, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told reporters that Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda asked his Cabinet to consider other measures beyond diplomatic actions against South Korea over Dokdo, indicating further deterioration in bilateral ties.
Seoul's Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young expressed "strong regrets" over Fujimura's announcement and urged Japan to withdraw the proposal immediately. "We strongly demand Japan immediately stop making such groundless and unjustified territorial claims on Dokdo," he told reporters.
Seoul-Tokyo relations have soured after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak made an unprecedented visit to Dokdo on August 10 in response to what he called Japan's unrepentant attitude over its brutal colonial rule of the Korean peninsula.
Dokdo, which lies closer to South Korea in the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan has long been a thorn in bilateral relations. South Korea keeps a small police detachment on the islets, "effectively controlling them," the report said.
by RTT Staff Writer
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