Islands stir up tension between far-east countries

August 13, 2012 12:00 pm

For a few days, a small group of islands, called Dokdo in Korean language, has been the key point of quarrel between Japan and South Korea. The olympics is also involved in the conflict.

On Friday night, the olympic football team of South Korea bet Japan’s best U23-footballers and won a bronze medal for their country. During the celebration, a young player of the Koreans, Park Jong-woo was running around with a banner says “Dokdo is ours!”. The young player had been banned from the victory ceremony as political messages are forbidden at the events of the olympic games.

What is Dokdo, and why is it such a problematic issue? Dokdo – or Takeshima in Japanese language – is a group of small islands in the Sea of Japan. It’s under the control of a small number of Korean administrative personnel on the main island, but its sovereignty is questioned by Japan, who claims that Takeshima belongs to one of their prefecture. This debate is a sad legacy of the colonial history of Korea – when this two ancient nation were enemies of each other.

Before Park’s action, the president of the ROK visited Dokdo on Friday. This kind of action made Japanese government upset, as it was the first time, when a South Korean head of state visited the disputed territory.

Today South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visited Takeshima. It is contrary to our nation’s stance that Takeshima is historically – and under international law – an integral part of our national territory, and is completely unacceptable.” – said Yoshihiko Noda, prime minister of Japan. Following the visitation, an annual meeting between the finance ministers of the two countries had been postponed.

The sea around Dokdo is a rich fishing ground, and according to scientists, it could contain significant amount of gas. The population of the islands – beside the administrative personnel and the coast guard – are only two people, a fisherman and his wife…

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