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(LEAD) S. Korea lodges complaint with Japan over diplomatic paper

16:18 April 23, 2019

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead and 2nd para as complaint has been lodged; ADDS foreign ministry's comment in paras 5-6, byline)
By Kim Seung-yeon

SEOUL, April 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea called in a senior Japanese Embassy official in Seoul on Tuesday to lodge a complaint about Tokyo's latest diplomatic paper repeating territorial claims to the South's easternmost islets of Dokdo and blaming Seoul for frayed relations between the two countries.

The foreign ministry lodged a formal protest with Koichi Mizushima, a diplomatic minister at Japan's embassy, in the afternoon regarding the 2019 Diplomatic Bluebook, in which Tokyo blames Seoul for strained bilateral ties in the wake of a series of events that happened over past months.

In this year's annual diplomatic paper, Tokyo has added a section about Seoul's decision to dissolve a Tokyo-funded foundation set up to support Korean wartime sexual slavery victims and a military spat triggered by a low-altitude flyby by a Japanese maritime aircraft.

The paper stated that "such negative moves" by South Korea have put bilateral relations "under a very difficult situation."

Seoul later slammed Tokyo for renewing the territorial claims and demanded they be promptly retracted.

"The government of Japan must realize that renewing the territorial claims will do nothing to affect our sovereignty, and our government will firmly deal with any provocative move by Japan regarding Dokdo," foreign ministry spokesman Kim In-chul told a briefing.

The paper increased the length of content on the long-running issue of Japan's enslavement of Korean women during World War II, with an emphasis on its claim that the issue was settled in a final and irreversible manner under a 2015 agreement between the two countries.

The agreement has been deeply unpopular in South Korea amid criticism that the government of then President Park Geun-hye agreed, without approval from the victims, that South Korea would never raise the issue again.

The government of President Moon Jae-in decided last year to dissolve the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation set up with funds contributed by Japan under the agreement.

The Japanese diplomatic paper also changed what it referred to in last year's version as "Korean forced labor victims" to "former laborers from the Korean Peninsula."

This photo filed April 23, 2019, captures a page from Tokyo's 2019 diplomatic paper, in which it changed "Korean forced labor victims" from last year's version to "former laborers from the Korean Peninsula" in this year's publication. (Yonhap)


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