SEOUL: South Korea on Tuesday slammed Japan’s “ludicrous” reassertion of its claim to a set of disputed islets in a new defense white paper, warning it would further strain relations.
Taiwan, meanwhile, said the Diaoyutai Islands are an integral part of its territory and attempts to claim otherwise are futile.
The white paper released in Tokyo briefly alluded to a set of territorial disputes, including one with South Korea over a group of islands in the East Sea (Sea of Japan).
The South Korea-controlled chain of rocky islets—called Dokdo by Seoul and Takeshima by Tokyo—have been the cause of tensions between the two neighbors for decades.
“The Japanese government repeated the ludicrous claim that Dokdo is its own territory . . . in its 2014 White Paper,” Seoul’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
“We find the claim unacceptable and urge Japan to withdraw it,” the statement said.
Relations between the South Korea and Japan are currently at their lowest ebb for years from various other disputes linked to Japan’s 1910-45 rule over the Korean peninsula.
The row over the islands intensified after then South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak made a surprise visit there in 2012.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said that the Diaoyutais are an integral part of the country.
“It is indisputable that from the perspective of geography, geology, history, international law and practical use, the Diaoyutais are an inalienable part of Taiwan,” the MOFA said.
The ministry’s remarks follow reports that Japan recently named five islets and included them in the archipelago.
“The government has informed Japan that such a move is unacceptable and urged careful handling of the matter to avoid detrimentally impacting regional peace and Taiwan-Japan relations,” the MOFA said.
According to the ministry, the government is committed to defending the nation’s sovereignty over the islands, continuing to make this stance known to the international community, and calling on all parties to use the East China Sea Peace Initiative as a way of turning the region into a sea of peace and cooperation.
Proposed on August 5, 2012 by President Ma Ying-jeou, the five-point initiative urges all parties to refrain from antagonistic actions; not abandon dialogue; observe international law; resolve disputes through peaceful means; and form a mechanism for exploring and developing resources on a cooperative basis.
The Diaoyutais are an uninhabited archipelago located roughly 102 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan proper. The island group is historically attached to Taiwan and includes Diaoyutai Island and the islets of Huangwei and Chiwei.
AFP AND TAIWAN TODAY