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Japan Claims Sovereignty Over Dokdo in Handbook

Posted July. 15, 2008 09:51,   


The Japanese government decided to claim sovereignty over the Dokdo islets in the East Sea in its school curriculum handbook, which acts as a guideline for social studies classes yesterday.

Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology held a presentation meeting to introduce a new version of a curriculum handbook to educators of local governments. At the meeting, the ministry released the handbook in which Japan claims its sovereignty over the Dokdo islets.

The handbook will state, “It is necessary to deepen students’ understanding of Japan’ territories by mentioning that Japan and Korea have difference in their stance over Takeshima (the name of Dokdo islets called by Japanese) as the disputed northern islands.”

It is the first time that Japan’s school teaching guide mentions its sovereignty over Dokdo.

Although the handbook does not directly mention that Dokdo is Japan’s territory, it gives an impression that Korea illegally occupies the islets by comparing it to the disputes over the northern islands’ with Russia.

The four islands include Etorof, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the rocky Habomai islets located at the southern tip of the Kurils. The Japanese government has been stubbornly urging Russia to return the islands.

In his press conference, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said, “The contents of the handbook reflect Japan’s intention not to destroy the bilateral relations between Korea and Japan.” He argued that Japan has considered Korea’s stance.

However, Japanese media reported, “The bilateral relations between Korea and Japan have somewhat improved since the Lee Myung-bak government took office. However, it is highly likely that the relations would cool down again.”

After Japan’s plan to claim the islets was announced, Korea has strongly protested via the resolution of lawmakers. Facing Korea’s anger, Japan’s Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Kisaburo Tokai, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura and Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura had meetings over the weekend.

In the meanwhile, the Korean Embassy in Japan protested on Saturday, saying, "Japanese media such as NHK released false news that Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda told Korean President Lee Myung-bak that Japan would claim its sovereignty over the islets in the handbook in his meeting with Lee in Hokkaido last week." In response, Japan’s Foreign Ministry answered, “It is false. We’ll explain to the media so as to urge them to correct their report.”