Members of Japan's lower house of parliament stand up to vote on two resolutions during a session in Tokyo, Friday. They adopted a resolution to protest South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's recent visit to Dokdo and his comments concerning the Japanese King, as well as another criticizing Chinese activists landing on the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands, also known as the Diaoyu Islands in Chinese, in the East China Sea. / AFP-Yonhap
By Chung Min-uck
Seoul criticized Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's statement Friday that Japan would strengthen its claim on territories, including South Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo, in a stern and robust manner.
This came shortly after Noda called on Seoul to end its "illegal occupation" of the islets during a press conference, a measure seen as the strongest Tokyo has ever taken.
"South Korea strongly protests the repeat of The Unjust claims made on Dokdo, which is Korean territory historically, geographically and under international law, and demands its immediate retraction", Cho Tai-young, a foreign ministry spokesman told reporters.
"Japan should make efforts to build a forward-looking relationship with Korea based on an accurate understanding of history, rather than repeating unjust claims".
Cheong Wa Dae didn't react to Noda's remarks.
A high-ranking official said on condition of anonymity that the Japanese Prime Minister played the nationalism card to woo voters ahead of the upcoming general election in October.
"Having said that, we don't feel the need to respond to the Japanese leader's every move because this will help his campaign", he said.
Noda, in a rare press conference on the latest territorial fights with its neighbors including one with China, vowed to make all efforts to push its claims over Dokdo.
Noda also said President Lee Myung-bak had "illegally landed" on the islets and added Japan has decided to take the issue to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for resolution.
Earlier, Seoul flatly rejected such a proposal saying "there is no territorial dispute over Dokdo as it is South Korean territory". In order to hand the matter over to the ICJ, both parties' consent is needed. The islets are effectively controlled by South Korea.
Earlier in the day, Seoul sent a letter of complaint to the Japanese foreign minister for his remarks on Dokdo being "illegally occupied by South Korea". The letter was delivered via the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.
It also returned a protest letter from the Japanese Prime Minister, which called for President Lee to apologize for "defamatory remarks" about Japan's King Akihito, via registered mail. Lee earlier said Akihito should make an apology for the past colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula (1910-1945) if he wants to visit here.
Tokyo has been ratcheting up its challenge to Korea's sovereignty after President Lee Myung-bak's landmark visit to the islets on Aug. 10. Insiders anticipate that Tokyo will stick to its hard-line stance on territorial issues until the general election expected in October.
Japan's lower house adopted a parliamentary resolution Friday criticizing Lee's trip to Dokdo, calling Korea's "occupation illegal".
Dokdo, which lies in the body of water between the Korean Peninsula and Japan closer to the former, has been a bone of contention in Seoul-Tokyo relations. Korea keeps a small police detachment on the islets effectively controlling them.
Koreans here see Japan's claims over the islets as denying their rights after the country regained independence from the Japanese colonial rule and reclaimed sovereignty over its territory including Dokdo and many other islands around the peninsula.
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