South Korea has condemned Japan for publishing a video in 10 languages challenging its sovereignty over a tiny group of islets at the heart of a territorial dispute, demanding Tokyo remove it.
The film, published on Wednesday by the Japanese foreign ministry on its own Web site and on YouTube, insists the islets in the Sea of Japan (East Sea), called Dokdo by Seoul and Takeshima by Tokyo, are its own. The 90-second clip — subtitled and dubbed in 10 languages, including English, Korean, Chinese, French, Spanish and Arabic — described Seoul’s de facto control over the islets as “illegal.”
“We gravely protest the publication of the video... and strongly demand that Japan remove these videos immediately,” Seoul’s foreign ministry said in a statement released late on Wednesday.
“We will never tolerate Japan’s attempt to violate our territorial sovereignty and will respond resolutely,” it said.
The ministry will publish videos on its own Web site and YouTube that counter Japan’s claims in several languages later this month, spokesman Cho Tai-young told reporters.
The Japanese foreign ministry Web site also published a multilanguage leaflet to accompany the video, arguing that Japan’s connection to the islets stretches back more than 200 years.
Japan and South Korea have bickered for decades over control of the islets. The row escalated last year following a surprise visit by then-South Korean president Lee Myung-bak. In October, South Korea carried out a military exercise there.
Relations have also been strained by other issues of contention arising from Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula.
Japan is embroiled in a separate row with China over another set of disputed islands called the Senkakus in the East China Sea. Taiwan also lays claim to the islands, which it calls the Diaoyutais (釣魚台). Japan’s foreign ministry also published this week a video reasserting its claim on the islands in 10 languages.