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South Koreans Protest Over Disputed Islands with Japan

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posted on Mar, 18 2005 @ 05:43 AM
South Korea vented its anger Wednesday after a regional legislature in Japan passed a symbolic resolution about a set of disputed islands. As street protests over the matter are intensifying in Seoul, so is the level of the South Korean government's official response.

South Korean authorities say they will allow and encourage citizens to visit a set of tiny islands at the heart of a dispute with Japan.

The announcement came Wednesday, just hours after a the Shimane Prefecture assembly in Japan passed a resolution designating what it calls "Takeshima Day." Takeshima is the Japanese name for the islands, which lie between Japan and the Korean peninsula. Koreans call the islands "Tokto."

The vote has no legal bearing and Japan's national government has distanced itself from the Shimane assembly's action.

Yoo Hong-joon is the director of South Korea's Cultural Heritage Administration. Mr. Yoo says previous environmental restrictions will be eased to allow Koreans to visit the islands, which he says are part of their heritage.

Japan and South Korea have disagreed about who owns the islands since the end of the Second World War. In recent weeks, however, the dispute has flared in anticipation of the Japanese vote. South Korea's National Security Council is scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss a response to the vote. "

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