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S. Korea, Japan renew territorial dispute
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Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Toshinori Shigeie (L) and South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan (R) take seats before their meeting after Yu summoned Shigeie to deliver a message of protest over Japan's new educational guidelines which define Dokdo as part of its territory, in Seoul July 14, 2008. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who has been positively improving the strained ties between Seoul and Tokyo since he took office on Feb. 25 and reached agreement with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on pursuing a future-oriented partnership with Japan during his visit to Japan in late April, expressed " deep disappointment" with Japan on Monday.

"I'm obliged to express deep regrets and disappointment at the Japanese government's decision to define Dokdo as part of its territory in a teacher's manual, particularly in consideration of the existing bilateral summit agreement to pursue a future- oriented partnership. The South Korean government has to deal with the Japanese claim to Dokdo sternly and strictly," the president said.

Local media said Japan's decision to claim sovereignty to Dokdo despite Seoul's strong opposition earlier was a heavy blow to Lee' s efforts to establish a closer cooperation with Japan.

Meanwhile, about 40 lawmakers of the ruling Grand National Party (GNP) and the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) conducted a brief visit to the islets of Dokdo, which are under control of South Korea, Monday afternoon and pledged non-partisan efforts to frustrate Japan's territorial bid for the islets.

They described Japan's claim to Dokdo as an attempt to violate South Korea's territorial sovereignty and a serious challenge to the Korean history.

Both South Korea and Japan claim sovereignty to the islets.

South Korea insists that the Dokdo islets, located some 89 km southeast to South Korea's Uleung Island and 160 km northwest to Japan's Oki Island, have been listed as its territory in literature since the fifth century.

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

South Korea has controlled the Dokdo islets since 1950s.

(Xinhua News Agency July 15, 2008)

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