TOKYO — Japan has lodged a protest with South Korea over its plan to survey islets controlled by Seoul and claimed by Tokyo, the top government spokesman said Wednesday.
“The plan is unacceptable and extremely regrettable,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference, noting that the islets, called Takeshima, are an “inherent territory of Japan in light of historical facts and international law.”
The islets known as Dokdo in South Korea are located off the coast of Japan’s western prefecture of Shimane and have been a major sticking point between the two countries.
Matsuno said the protest over the islets in the Sea of Japan was made through diplomatic channels and a South Korean foreign ministry official accompanying a delegation sent by South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol to Tokyo.
Bilateral relations have sunk to their lowest level in years under the current South Korean administration of President Moon Jae In over issues including the uninhabited islets, the “comfort women” procured for Japan’s wartime military brothels and wartime forced labor.
But the delegation’s visit to Japan through Thursday has fanned hope that the situation may finally improve under Yoon, who will be inaugurated in May.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and the delegation agreed on the need to improve relations between Tokyo and Seoul in a meeting on Tuesday.