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S. Korean MPs to visit islands disputed with Japan

24 october 2012, 14:12
A set of remote islands called Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese. ©REUTERS
A set of remote islands called Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese. ©REUTERS
A group of South Korean lawmakers were set Tuesday to visit an isolated set of islands at the heart of a territorial dispute with Japan -- a move likely to stoke tensions with Tokyo still more, AFP reports.

Seventeen members of the parliamentary National Defence Committee had gathered on South Korea's coast awaiting transport to the Dokdo islands (known as Takeshima in Japan), an aide to committee member Ahn Gyu-Baek said.

"They are scheduled to visit the islands via military chopper this afternoon as part of a government inspection session ... as soon as weather conditions allow," the aide told AFP.

The islands, which lie between the two countries, are controlled by South Korea but claimed by both nations.

The long-standing row over ownership boiled over in August when South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak made a surprise visit to the islets.

Tokyo said the trip -- the first ever by a South Korean president -- was deliberately provocative.

Seoul insists Tokyo's claim is erroneously founded in its 1910-45 colonial rule over the Korean peninsula.

Japan's chief cabinet secretary Osamu Fujimura Monday called for the Seoul lawmakers to cancel the planned trip, warning that the visit would jeopardise bilateral ties.

Lee said his visit was designed to press Japan to settle lingering colonial-era grievances, including the issue of Korean women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops during World War II.

Japan is embroiled in a separate row with China over a different set of disputed islands in the East China Sea, which are also claimed by Taiwan.

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