South Korea Returns Japanese Prime Minister’s Letter on Takeshima

The Korean government is showing a stronger stance in dealing with the tensions mounting with Japan concerning recent events surrounding the Dokdo. The government’s renewed position was displayed clearly through a series of actions. On August 23, it decided to return a letter that was sent to President Lee Myung-bak by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) will send an official diplomatic letter of protest in response to comments made the day before by Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba that Korea is “unlawfully occupying” Dokdo.

Tensions have grown since President Lee’s August 10 visit to Dokdo and his August 13 comment that ‘Japan no longer has the influence it used to have.’ The biggest blow came the following day through a comment asking Japanese Emperor Akhito to apologize for Japan’s past wrongdoings. For a while, it looked as if Seoul was easing up, saying that Korea may ease up on physical control of Dokdo.

The new posture comes in reaction to the aggression that the Japanese has shown in dealing with this issue, not to mention criticism by the Korean public pointing out the lack of a strategy to secure Korea’s rightful claim on Dokdo(Called Takeshima in Japan). The Korean government’s choice reflects the worry that this diplomatic friction could provide a pretext for Japan to turn Takeshima into an international dispute.

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