South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan issued an unusually sharp criticism Thursday of Japan's territorial claims and refusal to offer a sincere apology for its wartime atrocities.
On a visit to New York for the U.N. General Assembly's annual meeting, the minister made clear there will be "no compromise" on the matters unless Tokyo changes its attitude.
"Our position has always been firm and there will be no compromise. It's a clear principle," he told Korean correspondents here.
Kim dismissed the possibility Japan will be able to bring the Dokdo issue to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
The Dokdo islets in the East Sea are effectively controlled by South Korea but also claimed by Japan.
A small unit of the South Korean Coast Guard is stationed on Dokdo, which would otherwise be uninhabited. The waters around Dokdo are known to be rich in fishery resources and gas hydrates.
South Korea maintains that Dokdo's ownership is not disputable as the islets belong to Korea historically, geographically and under international law. Japan's strategy is to formally make Dokdo disputed territory.
"South Korea will never change its existing position that Dokdo is not disputed territory," he stressed, adding Tokyo can't take the Dokdo issue to the ICJ without Seoul's consent.
Kim accused Japan of using "double standards" in its claim to Dokdo and a separate territorial spat with China.
He also urged Japan to acknowledge its "state and legal" responsibility for the enforced sex slavery of Korean women during World War II. Japan colonized Korea from 1910-45.
"This is because (Japan) did not properly educate (its people) about history," he said. "After all, it is a matter to be resolved when Japan teaches correct history."
Often-prickly relations between the neighboring nations have soured again since South Korean President Lee Myung-bak made a historic visit to Dokdo in August.
His trip there, the first by a Korean leader, proved that Seoul has put an end to the so-called quiet diplomacy on Dokdo.
On the sidelines of the U.N. meeting on Thursday, the South Korean foreign minister held a bilateral meeting with his Japanese counterpart Koichiro Gemba.
In an apparent rebuke of Japan's history disputes with South Korea, Kim stressed the importance of promoting a "correct understanding of history," during the meeting with Gemba, Kim's ministry said in a statement.
During the meeting, Kim "reaffirmed our stance on the recognition of history and outstanding history issues," the statement said.
The two ministers also "reaffirmed the importance of developing bilateral relations in a future-oriented way as well as effective and continuous communication between the diplomatic authorities of the two countries." (Yonhap News)