Seoul protests against Tokyo's fresh claim to islets

TOKYO • South Korea has lodged a strong protest against Japan's repeated claims to territory that Seoul controls amid rising concerns about Japanese militarism.

The Cabinet led by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved its annual defence White Paper earlier yesterday, saying that territorial issues over the Northern Territories and Takeshima were still "unresolved".

Takeshima refers to a couple of rocky outcroppings which the Koreans call Dokdo. The islets, which sit in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, are controlled by Seoul.

The Northern Territories refers to four Kuril Islands controlled by Russia.

South Korea's Defence Ministry called in Mr Nobuhisa Goto, the defence attache of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, and delivered a message of protest to him.

This is the 11th year that Japan has laid territorial claims in the paper to the islets.

The message noted that Japan's claim blocked a forward-looking development of military relations between Seoul and Tokyo, expressing deep regrets and strong protests against the annual defence White Paper.

The paper also highlighted concern over North Korea's nuclear programme and Russian moves in violence-racked Ukraine.

On North Korea, the report warned of a "greater risk" of Pyongyang deploying ballistic missiles mounted with nuclear warheads "that include Japan in their range".

Referring to the Ukraine crisis, the White Paper said that Russia "has engaged in so-called 'hybrid warfare' that is difficult to identify definitively as an armed attack by a country, and has attempted to change the status quo by force or coercion".

"The Russian attempt is considered to be a global security issue possibly affecting the whole international community, including Asia," it said.

XINHUA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2015, with the headline 'Seoul protests against Tokyo's fresh claim to islets'. Print Edition | Subscribe