South Korea criticises Japanese PM over islets issue

Seoul, Feb 1: South Korea Friday denounced Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for saying that Tokyo is considering to bring the territorial dispute over the islets off South Korea’s east coast to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry slammed Abe’s comment made a day earlier regarding the islets, known as Dokdo here and Takeshima in Japan, as nothing but “empty rhetoric and a meaningless thing”, Xinhua reported.

Tokyo regularly provokes Seoul by claiming its sovereignty over the disputed islets.

Japanese Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura Tuesday announced that the ministry had revised the country’s teaching manuals for junior and senior high schools to claim areas in disputes between Japan and China and between Japan and South Korea.

The new manuals will describe the disputed territories as “Japan’s integral parts”, Japan’s Kyodo News agency reported.

On Tuesday, South Korea also criticised this Japanese move, with the South Korean foreign ministry summoning Japanese Ambassador Koro Bessho and demanding Japan retract the manuals.

Relations between South Korea and Japan have been strained since Shinzo Abe took office in late 2012.

The ongoing row between Tokyo and Seoul also includes issues of Japan’s continuous push for collective self-defense, wrong historical perception about using of Korean “comfort women” and exploiting Korean labour during the war, which have prevented the two sides from holding summit level talks.