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LDP to consider responses to South Korean police chief’s landing on Takeshima

By Sugimoto Koji


On Nov. 16, the South Korean police chief landed on Takeshima (Okinoshimacho, Shimane Prefecture), which is illegally occupied by South Korea. In response, some in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are now considering taking countermeasures, including submitting an application to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Although the Japanese government has officially taken a wait-and-see attitude toward the LDP initiative, some in the government have welcomed the move after a series of verbal protests has proved ineffective.


Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Mori Takeo and Director-General for Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Funakoshi Takehiro have already lodged eight protests in total with South Korea. Mori also refused to attend the Nov. 17 joint press conference scheduled to be held after the trilateral vice-ministerial meeting between Japan, the United States, and South Korea in Washington. “It is not appropriate to act as if nothing is wrong,” he said.


Seoul, however, insists that “there is no change in the South Korean government’s position,” proving that Japan’s protests have had no significant impact. At a meeting of the LDP on Nov. 24, former Senior Vice-Foreign Minister Sato Masahisa, who heads the party’s foreign affairs division, proposed that a team be launched to consider what countermeasures Japan could take. Sato told the press that filing with the ICJ is one option.


“I will refrain from making an official comment on each of our options [for countermeasures],” said Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa at a press conference on Nov. 26, affecting an air of disinterest over the LDP initiative. The parties involved must agree to apply to the ICJ, however, and South Korea has refused Japan’s proposals for application three times in the past.


The last time a South Korean chief of police landed on Takeshima was twelve years ago in 2009. This year, the Japanese government knew of South Korea’s intentions beforehand and made behind-the-scenes efforts to ask the South Korean side to not go through with the plan. The request was ignored, however. A senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) welcomes the LDP initiative, saying, “It will convey to the South Koreans that Japan takes a stern view of the incident.” “We welcome the LDP’s discussions on the matter,” said another senior MOFA official. “The government will likely follow suit.”


The issue involving the South Korean Supreme Court’s ruling on the so-called requisitioned laborers also remains unresolved. The Japanese government insists that the ruling is in violation of international law because it rejects the “Agreement on the Settlement of Problem concerning Property and Claims and on Economic Co-operation between Japan and the Republic of Korea,” which the two countries signed in 1965. The agreement states that the issue of compensation was resolved completely and finally. Japan has repeatedly warned South Korea that serious repercussions will follow if the seized assets of the Japanese corporations addressed in the court ruling are liquidated. The LDP team will consider responses to this issue as well.

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