S. Korea to eventually push for use of only ‘East Sea’: FM

S. Korea to eventually push for use of only ‘East Sea’: FM


SEOUL, Aug. 12 (Yonhap) — South Korea will eventually push for the international community to only recognize its name for the body of water between Korea and Japan, once it succeeds in establishing concurrent use of “East Sea” and “Sea of Japan,” Seoul’s foreign minister said Friday.

Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan’s remarks came amid renewed efforts to formally establish two names for the waters, which have long been a source of territorial rows between the Asian neighbors. Recent revelations that the United States advised the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) to call the waters the “Sea of Japan,” instead of Korea’s preferred name, the “East Sea,” rekindled anger among the South Korean public.

“The government has been pushing for the parallel use of ‘East Sea’ and ‘Sea of Japan’ ever since it joined the United Nations (in 1991), but that is not our final goal,” he told reporters during a regular briefing. “That is our immediate goal, but our ultimate aim is the singular use of ‘East Sea,'” he said. He noted that the appellation “Sea of Japan” is another legacy of Tokyo’s 1910-45 colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula, which “many nations do not agree” with.

On Tokyo’s fresh claims to the South Korean islets of Dokdo, which lie in the East Sea, the minister stressed the government’s unchanged position that their ownership is not up for debate. Japan’s Sankei Shimbun reported earlier this week that Tokyo was considering taking the Dokdo issue to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The report came shortly after four Japanese lawmakers attempted to visit a South Korean island adjacent to Dokdo to boost their territorial claim, and Tokyo’s release of a defense white paper laying claim to the set of rocky outcroppings.

“Japan already made a formal proposal to South Korea in 1954 that they take the issue to the ICJ. Foreign Minister Byun Young-tae, who was minister at the time, expressed our position in an official diplomatic letter,” Kim said. The letter described Japan’s proposal as another form of aggression against South Korea and flatly rejected any responsibility for Korea to prove its sovereignty over Dokdo at the ICJ, according to Kim. “Our government’s position has not changed in the least bit,” he said. All parties involved are required to consent to a case being handled by the ICJ.




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