SEOUL, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- The Japan-South Korea island territorial issue was at a standstill Wednesday after Seoul rejected a Tokyo proposal to take it to the World Court.
Instead, a senior South Korean Foreign Ministry official said Wednesday Seoul would begin a heightened a worldwide public relations effort to counter Japan's claim to the Korean-controlled islands located between the two countries, Yonhap News Agency reported.
South Korea calls the islets as Dokdo, while Japan calls them Takeshima.
The issue comes up even as Japan and China have seen escalation of their territorial dispute over another group of uninhabited East China Sea islands controlled by Japan and known in Japan as Senkaku and Diaoyu in China.
Japan also has an unresolved issue with Russia over the Kuril Islands.
In the Dokdo-Takeshima case, South Korea said Japan's proposal to let the International Court of Justice -- also known as the World Court -- resolve the matter was "not worth consideration."
The Yonhap report quoted Seoul officials as saying Tokyo's proposal is an attempt to make Dokdo a disputed territory and that similar proposals in 1954 and 1962 also had been rejected.
"We will let the international community learn more about the issue of Dokdo in the future," the Seoul Foreign Ministry official, who was not identified, was quoted as saying.
Japan's ICJ proposal came after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak recently visited one of the islets. South Korea reportedly maintains a small garrison on the islands.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told his Cabinet Tuesday Lee's visit was "deplorable" and Japan "needs to take a firm stance," Kyodo News reported. Noda said he would ask South Korea to respond "in a thoughtful and cautious manner" in the interest of bilateral relations.
Japan is likely to unilaterally submit its case to the ICJ, the report said, adding Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba had he believed Japan has a good chance of winning its sovereignty claim.
Separately, Kyodo quoted Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura as saying Prime Minister Noda had asked his Cabinet members -- including Genba and Deputy Prime Minister Katsuya Okada -- to determine Japan's response to Lee's Aug. 10 trip to the islets.
Finance Minister Jun Azumi had suggested Japan may downsize its bilateral currency swap contracts with South Korea, Kyodo reported. The arrangement is designed to allow South Korea to intervene in the markets with U.S. dollars funds to stem any sharp plunge in its currency against the Japanese yen and other major currencies.
South Korea's proposed PR campaign would include distribution of brochures on Dokdo in English and Japanese languages for "correct public recognition and (raising) awareness on the unjustness of Japan's territorial claims over Dokdo," the official said, Yonhap reported.
South Korea has said Japan, once its colonial ruler, has long laid claims to Dokdo in school textbooks and government reports, which has further stoked enmity toward it among South Koreans. Japan's colonial rule lasted from 1910 to 1945 before Korea won independence.
The Japan-China dispute over Senkaku-Diayou grew worse last weekend after protests in both countries in which activists sought to assert sovereignty over the Japanese-controlled islands.
Ten Japanese activists, including local assembly members, swam ashore Uotsuri Island, the largest of the islets, two days after Japan deported 14 Chinese they had been holding after the Chinese landed on the same Uotsuri island. The islands have assumed importance as they are seen being rich in energy and fishing resources.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the landing of Japanese activists had undermined China's territorial sovereignty. Japan rejected the Chinese protest, saying the islands are part of Japanese territory.
The official Chinese media, in strongly worded reports, said the landing by the Japanese activists was provoked after Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara initiated a plan in April to purchase the islands from their Japanese owners.
The official Xinhua News Agency said the landing by a "pack of Japanese right-wingers" on the island was "a scheme to net political leverage."
Writing in the Wednesday issue of China Daily, Zhou Yongsheng, professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, said Japan is going through a turbulent summer as South Korea and China as well as Russia have taken tough stands on their individual territorial issues with Japan.
The four Kuril Islands are held by Russia since the former Soviet Union took them after World War II. Japan has been demanding the return of the islands, known as the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia.
Japanese Foreign Minister Gemba, who recently held talks with Russians, said although wide gaps remained between the two countries over the islands issue, the two sides planned to continue talking.
Gemba's visit to Russia came after Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited one of the four islands last month, drawing protests from the Japanese government.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, is reported to be keen on concluding a peace treaty with Japan to facilitate greater bilateral economic cooperation.
In his article, Zhou claimed that after the end of World War II, Japan did not delve deep into its conscience to review historical issues.
"As a result, Japan's neighbors cannot fully trust it. Though the Japanese government and senior officials have apologized for their historical atrocities many times, most of their apologies have not been sincere," the article said.
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