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ROK Issues New Principles over Ties with Japan

Republic of Korea said Thursday it will not tolerate Japan challenging its territorial sovereignty or distorting their shared history, labeling such moves as amounting to "justifying its past invasion" of the Korean Peninsula.

The remarks were made in a strong-worded statement issued by ROK's National Security Council (NSC) on Thursday afternoon after it convened a meeting to discuss South Korean new principles in dealing with relations with Japan.

The meeting was called one day after a Japanese provincial assembly passed an ordinance, which aimed at promoting Japan's claim to Dokdo, a chain of disputed islets located in the East Sea(Sea of Japan), which Japan calls "Takeshima".

The NSC is an administrative body under the direct leadership of South Korean president. South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-young currently doubles chairman of the NSC's standing committee.

"We will take measures to firmly defend our sovereignty over Dokdo," Chung read the statement at a press conference Thursday.

"A recent series of Japanese actions force us to fundamentally doubt whether Japan has an intention to co-exist with its neighbors as a peaceful force in Northeast Asia," Chung said.

Such Japanese moves "seriously undermine ROK-Japan friendship and go against the aspiration of neighboring countries in this region for peace and prosperity," he added.

Chung also urged Japan to change its "unrepentant attitude" and said South Korea will explore new ways to make Japan correct its "anachronistic history distortion."

Chung also announced four principles to guide future South Korean policy on Seoul-Tokyo ties.

ROK will commit itself to build a new ROK-Japan ties based on "universal merit and common sense of human," which was explained by Chung as "thorough investigation over reality of history, sincere apology and self-reflection."

In the past two years, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun pushed future-oriented policy toward Japan, rather than giving too much importance to the bitter memory of Japan's colonial rule of Korea.

Chung also said South Korea will take stern measures to the Japanese claim of sovereignty over Dokdo and wrong behavior on history issue. While, in the same time, Seoul will prove justness of ROK over the above issues to the international community.

But, despite the dispute, Chung said ROK will keep intact political and diplomatic exchanges while expanding economic, social and cultural exchanges with Japan.

The passage of the Japan's provincial ordinance aroused furious anger in ROK, which now is taking effective control of Dokdo with deployment of a garrison of coast police.

The South Korean government and people also made strong reaction to a new edition of a Japanese school textbook which was reportedly seriously distort the history of Japanese aggression against neighboring countries and colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula.

On Thursday, thousands of South Korean people continued their demonstrations all over the country to protest the passage of the ordinance.

ROK insists that the Dokdo islets, located some 89 kilometers southeast to South Korean Uleung Island and 160 kilometers northwest to Japanese Oki Island, have been listed as its territory in history literature since the fifth century.

While Japan also claims that the islets have been its territory since the 17th century, as written in literature.

The dispute over Dokdo and history textbook between the two countries poured ice water to the "ROK-Japan Friendship Year", which was kicked off earlier 2005 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two.

(Xinhua News Agency March 18, 2005)

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