Japan's survey on islands riles Seoul

SEOUL - South Korea has issued a formal protest to Japan after Tokyo conducted a controversial survey seeking views on a set of islands disputed by the two countries.

In the public survey of 3,000 Japanese, whose findings were released on Thursday, six in 10 respondents said they saw the Seoul-controlled islands in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, as their country's territory.

It was the first such survey by the Japanese government, Yonhap news agency said.

"Our government sternly protests Japan's renewed provocative actions," South Korea's foreign ministry said in a statement yesterday. "We strongly urge Japan to stop such actions immediately.

It added that provocative remarks by some Japanese leaders are posing "a serious obstacle" to the constructive development of bilateral ties.

The islands, known as Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese, have been the subject of a decades-old territorial dispute. Japan's Shimane prefecture designated Feb 22 as Takeshima Day in 2005, and this year, for the first time, the central government sent a representative to the event.

South Korea has kept a small police detachment on Dokdo since 1954.