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Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will hold a news conference on Friday to express his views on the territorial dispute over the Takeshima islets.
Noda wrote a letter to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak following Lee’s recent visit to the Takeshima islets in the Sea of Japan. They are called Dokdo in South Korea. The letter calls for a peaceful settlement of the territorial dispute in accordance with international law.
The South Korean government refused to accept the letter and returned it to Japan.
An official from the South Korean Embassy in Tokyo visited the Japanese Foreign Ministry on Thursday, but was denied entry. The South Korean government sent back the letter by mail later in the day.
The Japanese government says it cannot accept South Korea’s response to the territorial dispute.
In addition, Lee recently said that if Japan’s Emperor wishes to visit South Korea, he should offer a heartfelt apology to Koreans who died fighting for independence from Japan.
Noda told a Diet committee on Thursday that the comment lacks common sense.
Japanese authorities say they have not proposed to Korean officials that the Emperor visit the country. They plan to clarify South Korea’s stance through diplomatic channels.
At Friday’s news conference, Noda is also 1expected to speak about problems with China over the Senkaku island group in the East China Sea.
The Japanese government decided Tuesday to formally propose to South Korea by the end of the day that the two countries jointly seek a resolution to their dispute over some sparsely inhabited islands at the International Court of Justice, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said.
Japan will soon send a diplomatic document known as a “note verbale” formally making the proposal to the South Korean government through the Japanese embassy in Seoul, government officials said.The move comes in the wake of South Korean President Lee Myung Baks recent controversial visit to one of the disputed isles in the Sea of Japan, controlled by Seoul but claimed by Tokyo.
Anti-Japanese protests spread across China over the weekend, with the landing of Japanese activists on a disputed island on Sunday and the unfurling of Japanese flags increasing tensions between the two countries.
Protesters took to the streets in nearly a dozen Chinese cities on Saturday and Sunday in response to Japan’s detention on Wednesday and deportation on Friday of activists from Hong Kong, Macau and China. Demonstrations took place in cities up and down China’s eastern provinces, from Harbin and Shenyang in the northeast to Guangzhou and Shenzhen in the southeast, according to Xinhua, the official news agency.
Tokyo’s conservative governor said Monday that the metropolitan government has decided to purchase a group of islands in the East China Sea at the center of a bitter bilateral territorial dispute between the two regional powers, in a move that could heighten tensions between Japan and China.
Shintaro Ishihara, a popular politician known for his nationalistic views and provocative style, said Tokyo has been negotiating with the private Japanese owners of the islands-known as the Senkaku in Japanese and the Diaoyu in Chinese-adding that the metropolitan government is close to reaching an agreement to buy them.
Both Japan and China claim the strategically coveted islands, located between Japan’s southern Okinawa Prefecture and Taiwan. A collision between a Chinese fishing boat and a Japanese coast guard vessel in September 2010 near the islands ignited a diplomatic spat that has left lingering scars in bilateral relations.
“Tokyo has decided to buy the Senkaku Islands. Tokyo is going to protect the Senkakus,” Mr. Ishihara said in a speech in Washington at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. “Would anyone have a problem with an act by the Japanese to protect our own land?”
The purchase, Mr. Ishihara explained, is aimed at preventing China from taking “effective control” of the islands out of Japan’s hands, according to Japanese media reports. He didn’t disclose the value of the purchase, but added that the matter has to be discussed by the metropolitan assembly.