SEOUL, Jan. 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Monday denounced Japan's repeated sovereignty claim to the easternmost islets of Dokdo and urged the neighbor to face up to history in order to improve bilateral relations.
The foreign ministry lodged a strong protest after Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi reiterated Tokyo's stance on the East Sea outcroppings in his parliamentary speech earlier in the day.
"The Japanese government should stop its unreasonable claim to Dokdo, which is clearly our inherent territory historically, geographically and by international law," ministry spokesperson Choi Young-sam said in a statement.
"It will have to clearly recognize that right history perceptions serve as the foundation for the development of forward-looking bilateral relations," he noted.
The islets, effectively controlled by South Korea with a small police unit stationed, have long been a source of diplomatic stand-offs between the two sides as a legacy of Japan's imperialistic past.