South Korean President Visits Disputed Islets
Tokyo recalled its ambassador to Seoul on Friday after South Korea President Lee Myung-bak flew to a pair of small islets also claimed by Japan, in a high-profile assertion of territorial rights.
“Dokdo is truly our territory,” Mr. Lee said during the visit, the first by a South Korean president to the territory, known as Takeshima in Japan and as Liancourt Rocks by the U.S. and other parties outside the dispute. He added that it is “worth sacrificing our lives over.”
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Friday that “the visit is incompatible with Japan’s position and therefore unacceptable.”
He said Friday the islets belong to Japan “historically and by international law.”
The latest tit-for-tat appeared to be prompted by Japan’s release last week of a defense white paper restating its claims to the territory. It is one of several territorial disputes involving Japan and its neighbors. Japan controls a set of islands known as Senkaku, also claimed as Diaoyu in China.
Japan claims Russian-controlled islands known as the Southern Kurils, which Japan calls the Northern Territories. In late 2010, then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited the island closest to the Japanese mainland, sparking a protest similar to the one Japan leveled at South Korea on Friday.