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Dokdo territorial dispute hampers trilateral cooperation

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Dokdo territorial dispute hampers trilateral cooperation

Dokdo islets / gettyimagesbank
Dokdo islets / gettyimagesbank


Japan protests Seoul marine survey near Dokdo

By Kang Seung Woo

Bright prospects for stronger three-way cooperation between South Korea, Japan and the United States against growing threats from North Korea face uncertainty as long-running territorial dispute pits Seoul once again and Tokyo.

Japan’s claim to Dokdo, South Korea’s easternmost islet, and other historical issues surrounding its wartime atrocities, continue to overshadow their bilateral relationship, dashing Washington’s hopes of trilateral cooperation.

South Korea’s new president and US leader, who recently visited Asia, have tried to change that dynamic, as evidenced by last week’s unprecedented joint statement by their foreign ministers condemning ballistic missile launches. from Pyongyang.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry filed a protest against South Korea’s naval investigation around Dokdo for the second consecutive day on Sunday and Monday.

According to Japanese media, the ministry confirmed that a Korean research vessel threw something like a wire into the sea in Japan’s exclusive economic zone and South Korea acknowledged the marine investigation.

However, the South Korean Foreign Ministry rejected this claim, saying it was unacceptable. The ministry also said the investigation was a legitimate activity in accordance with national and international laws.

The row comes as new South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol pledged to restore bilateral ties with Japan, which the US government has been striving for in order to effectively deal with nuclear and missile threats from South Korea. North and, moreover, to keep China’s assertion under control. .

Relations between South Korea and Japan have reached their lowest point in years due to Tokyo’s imposition of export controls on three key materials essential for the semiconductor and display industries here. , in apparent retaliation for a South Korean Supreme Court ruling ordering Japanese companies to compensate surviving Koreans who were victims of wartime forced labor.

Yoon and U.S. President Joe Biden stress the importance of trilateral cooperation in addressing North Korea’s challenges, protecting shared security and prosperity, upholding common values, and strengthening the rules-based international order, according to the joint statement from their May 21 summit in Seoul.

Amid growing threats from North Korea, the three countries have shown signs of concentration.

Their nuclear envoys are due to hold a meeting in Seoul on Friday, while a vice-ministerial meeting is also being arranged. In addition, their defense ministers should meet in Singapore on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, scheduled for June 10-12.

While the Biden administration stresses the importance of trilateral cooperation against North Korean aggression, the territorial dispute could disrupt those efforts, however, according to diplomatic observers.

In fact, Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Takeo Mori canceled a joint press conference following talks with his South Korean and American counterparts in Washington, D.C., last November, citing the police chief’s visit. South Korean in Dokdo.

The dispute also comes as Kim Jong-un’s regime is widely expected to carry out a seventh nuclear test in the near future. According to the South Korean military, North Korea appears to have completed preparations for a nuclear test. He last detonated a nuclear device in September 2017.

South Korea has long maintained effective control of Dokdo with the permanent stationing of security personnel. In April, the Japanese government claimed that the islets belonged to the country in its annual report on foreign policy and activities, and in response, the South Korean foreign ministry called the deputy chief of mission at the embassy of Japan here.