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Seoul calls for Tokyo to scrap its annual Dokdo ceremony

Feb 23,2018
이미지뷰
Children and members of Korean civic groups stage a rally in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to protest Japan’s annual Dokdo ceremony in Shimane Prefecture on Thursday. [YONHAP]
Seoul lodged a protest against the Japanese government for sending a parliamentary cabinet vice minister to an annual ceremony promoting Tokyo’s claims over Dokdo, Korea’s easternmost islets, for the sixth consecutive year, calling on Thursday for the event to be abolished.

Earlier that day, the Shinzo Abe administration sent Yuhei Yamashita, a parliamentary cabinet vice minister, to the 13th Takeshima Day ceremony in Japan’s Shimane Prefecture.

The Dokdo islets, which are located in the East Sea and known in Japanese as Takeshima, are under Korea’s administrative control.

Noh Kyu-duk, spokesman of the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a briefing, “The Korean government strongly protests the Japanese government repeating its wrongful territorial claims over Dokdo by sending a high-level government official” to the Shimane Prefecture ceremony and “calls for the abolishment of the event.”

He added, “We call upon the Japanese government to immediately halt such wrongful claims on Dokdo, which is clearly an integral part of our territory historically, geographically and under international law, and to show a posture of a responsible country that looks at history humbly and squarely.”

The Korean Foreign Ministry also summoned Koichi Mizushima, a minister and deputy head at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, to formally lodge a protest over the issue.

In 2005, Shimane Prefecture designated Feb. 22 as Takeshima Day to strengthen Japan’s territorial claims on the Dokdo islets. Since 2013, the hawkish Abe administration has sent a parliamentary cabinet vice minister to the ceremony annually, which the Korean Foreign Ministry has denounced each time.

Korean civic organizations nationwide also protested Japan’s Dokdo event in rallies across Seoul, Busan and Ulleung Island in North Gyeongsang.

Dokdo falls under the jurisdiction of Ulleung County in North Gyeongsang, and can be seen from Ulleung Island with the naked eye on a clear day.

North Gyeongsang Governor Kim Kwan-yong held a press conference Thursday to strongly denounce Japan’s territorial provocations and called for the scrapping of Takeshima Day.

He also called for the permanent exhibition hall on Japan’s territorial claims over Dokdo, which opened in January in downtown Tokyo, to be shut down. He also demanded that passages describing Dokdo as Japan’s integral territory be removed from Japanese high school textbook guidelines.

Last week, Japan’s Education Ministry renewed its claims over Dokdo for the first time in its revised high school textbook guidelines, which were unveiled on Feb. 14, a move that was immediately protested by the Korean Foreign Ministry.

The legally-binding guidelines, once finalized, will be applied to Japanese high school textbooks starting from 2022. The guidelines, which set the curricula for all Japanese high school textbooks, were last revised in 2009.

Japan’s Education Ministry also included similar claims over Dokdo in its revised elementary and middle school textbooks guidelines, introduced last year.

Members of Dokdo Sarang, a civic organization, called for the abolishment of Shimane Prefecture’s Dokdo ceremony in a rally held in Gwanghwamun Square, central Seoul, as well as a halt to Japan’s distorted education practices and the scrapping of Tokyo’s territory and sovereignty exhibition hall.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]