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2012年8月26日 (日)

首相「領土」会見 国際社会へ反転攻勢の一歩に

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 26, 2012)
Govt must stress sovereignty over isles to intl community
首相「領土」会見 国際社会へ反転攻勢の一歩に(8月25日付・読売社説)

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda held a press conference Friday on the dispute involving the Takeshima islands and other territorial issues. This occasion should pave the way for Japan to take the offensive in seeking understanding of the issues both at home and abroad.

Noda said at the press conference, "We'll deal with the issues calmly but uncompromisingly with unwavering determination."

"They're Japanese territory both historically and under international law," he said, referring to the Takeshima islands. "In keeping with international law and justice, the proper path is to hold debates and settle the matter at the International Court of Justice."

We consider it highly significant that the prime minister stated explicitly that his government will protect the nation's sovereignty over the islets.

South Korea has reinforced its illegal occupation of the Takeshima islands through such actions as building a structure there. Japan protested the actions, but it is hard to say that Tokyo has taken effective countermeasures.


Take advantage of legal action

It is vital for Japan to make the legitimacy of its territorial claim and the reasoning behind it widely known to the international community by taking the dispute to the international court. The government also needs to make efforts to help as many people as possible properly understand the Takeshima issue by explaining it thoroughly.

Noda also spoke about the recent illegal landing on the Senkaku Islands by Hong Kong activists. "The government will make every effort to strengthen the nation's information-gathering ability and take all possible measures to improve its policing and surveillance capabilities in the surrounding waters" to prevent such incidents in the future, he said.

To maintain and stably manage the Senkaku Islands, which are under Japan's effective control, the government faces the urgent task of nationalizing the islets. To that end, it is important to closely cooperate with the Tokyo metropolitan government, which plans to purchase the islands.

The government must not fail to strengthen the abilities of the Japan Coast Guard and the Maritime Self-Defense Force to swiftly respond to illegal landings on the islands and intrusions into Japan's territorial waters by foreign countries.


Noda letter not re-sent

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry has decided not to resend the personal letter from Noda to South Korean President Lee Myung Bak that South Korea rejected and returned to the ministry by mail.

Returning a personal letter from a national leader is unusual and considered disrespectful. However, we can understand the decision by Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and other government officials to accept the returned letter, considering "the dignity" of Japanese diplomacy. The decision was based on the logic that Noda's message, which calls Lee's visit to Takeshima regrettable, has been conveyed to Seoul.

The House of Representatives on Friday adopted a resolution condemning Lee's visit to Takeshima and his remarks seeking the Emperor's apology to Koreans who died while fighting for Korea's independence. The resolution demands that South Korea halt its illegal occupation of the islands and Lee withdraw the remarks about the Emperor. The remarks have sparked criticism not only in Japan but also in South Korea. Seeking the withdrawal is reasonable.

We view the resolution as well-balanced because, among other things, it calls South Korea a vital neighboring country of Japan. However, it is disappointing that the resolution was not approved unanimously as the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party and others opposed it.

Japan and South Korea share common security interests on such issues as North Korea's nuclear program. We urge Seoul to handle the territorial issue with a cool head without losing sight of the broader significance of the two countries' relations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 25, 2012)
(2012年8月25日01時29分  読売新聞)


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