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2014年2月24日 (月)

竹島の日 内外に訴えよ韓国の不法占拠

The Yomiuri Shimbun February 23, 2014
Japan should present case abroad, at home on Takeshima occupation
竹島の日 内外に訴えよ韓国の不法占拠(2月23日付・読売社説)

The Takeshima islands in Shimane Prefecture are an inherent part of Japanese territory, but South Korea has been illegally occupying them. It is important that many more Japanese people share this understanding.

The Shimane prefectural government has held its ninth “Takeshima Day” ceremony. Yoshitami Kameoka, parliamentary secretary of the Cabinet Office, represented the government at the ceremony and said in a speech, “The government will do its best to solve the Takeshima issue rationally and peacefully.”

Feb. 22 is the day that Japan incorporated the Takeshima islands into Shimane Prefecture in 1905. The prefecture enacted the “Takeshima Day” ordinance in 2005 and has been organizing the ceremony on the day every year since 2006. It is highly praiseworthy that the prefecture has steadily continued its Takeshima awareness campaign.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government last year sent the parliamentary secretary of the Cabinet Office to the ceremony for the first time. Of course, resolving the territorial dispute is not easy and will take a long time, but the persistence of such awareness activities is important.

In the past, Japan used Takeshima as a transit point of maritime traffic and a fishing base, and established sovereignty over the islands in the mid-17th century. After the end of World War II, South Korea demanded the United States include Takeshima among territories Japan should give up, but Washington refused.

However, Seoul unilaterally established the “Syngman Rhee Line” in 1952 to demarcate the limits of its waters, including the Takeshima islands within its extended territory. It then illegally occupied the islands. South Korea has refused Tokyo’s proposal to settle the dispute at the International Court of Justice.

Raise awareness on islands

Results of a Cabinet Office survey released in August showed that 63 percent of Japanese polled knew that South Korea has illegally occupied the islands, and 61 percent realized they were an inherent part of Japanese territory. It is regrettable to say that these figures are not necessarily high. The government must make a greater effort to spread the correct understanding of the issue among the public.

In January, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry revised instruction manuals for its course of study for middle and high schools to stipulate for the first time that the Takeshima and Senkaku islands are inherent territories of Japan. This should help improve the public’s awareness of the government’s views on the Takeshima and Senkaku islands.

It is also important to disseminate Japan’s views on the territorial issues among other countries in the world. The Foreign Ministry last year uploaded to its website video footage explaining the government views on the territories in 12 languages, which attracted more than 1 million hits.

South Korea objected to the observance of “Takeshima Day” and demanded Tokyo stop sending a parliamentary secretary to the ceremony. However, its claim lacks legitimacy and is nothing but intervention in internal affairs.

Tokyo decided not to organize a government ceremony to mark the day as the Liberal Democratic Party had stipulated in its policy pledges for the last House of Representatives elections. It also did not send the prime minister or other ministers to the ceremony, though Shimane Prefecture invited them. We think these are appropriate diplomatic considerations made with the South Korean government in mind.

There are many other issues Japan and South Korea should work on together, such as North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade accord. The foreign ministries of both countries should carefully handle the dispute over the Takeshima islands so it does not become a major factor to hinder improvement of their bilateral relations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 23, 2014)
(2014年2月23日01時41分  読売新聞)


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