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S. Korea 'strongly' protests Japan FM's sovereignty claim over Dokdo

Jan. 30, 2024 - 17:41 By Ji Da-gyum
Japan's Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa delivers a speech during a plenary session of the lower house in Tokyo on Tuesday. (AFP)

The South Korean government on Tuesday urged Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa to "immediately retract" her claim of territorial sovereignty over Dokdo, which are South Korea's easternmost sovereign islets, in her parliamentary speech.

"The government strongly protests against the repeated unjust territorial claims by the Japanese government regarding Dokdo, which is undeniably our distinct territory —historically, geographically, and under international law," read a statement issued under the name of spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry.

This marks the 11th consecutive year since 2014 that a Japanese foreign minister has made such a claim during an annual parliamentary speech outlining Japan's foreign policy objectives.

"The government reaffirms that Japan's unjust claims hold no sway over our sovereignty over Dokdo, which is an integral part of South Korea's territory. We firmly declare our resolute response to any provocations by Japan concerning Dokdo," the statement read.

"The Japanese government should clearly recognize that persisting in unjust claims over Dokdo is no help at all in building a forward-looking relationship between Korea and Japan."

The South Korean government also reaffirmed its stance on the Japanese top diplomat's declared pursuit to recognize gold and silver mines on the island of Sado, where Koreans were forced to work during World War II, as a World Heritage site.

During her speech, Kamikawa expressed her commitment to fulfilling her role to that end by engaging in ongoing respectful discussions with relevant countries.

But Tokyo has been criticized for intentionally leaving out mention of forced mobilization in the Sado mine.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry clarified that the "Sado Mine shares a painful history of forced labor, similar to Japanese modern industrial facilities" in a statement.

"Therefore, we emphasize once again that a comprehensive reflection of the entire history of the Sado Mine is paramount in discussing its potential inclusion as a UNESCO World Heritage site."