Japan Recalls Korean Ambassador Over Island Visit

  • VOA News

    August 11, 2012 04:45

    Japan has recalled its ambassador to Korea to protest President Lee Myung-Bak's visit to a group of islands claimed by both countries.

    Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said Friday that Lee's visit was "utterly unacceptable," and would have a "strong impact" on Korean-Japan relations.
    "In protest, we are temporarily pulling out Ambassador Masatoshi Muto from the Japanese Embassy in Korea. Additionally, we passed the message to the Korean ambassador that we were given no choice but to take suitable measures against it."

    President Lee Myung-bak (right) talks with police officer Yoon Jang-soo as Lee visits islands called Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan on Aug. 10, 2012.
    Lee on Friday became the first ever Korean president to visit the islands, which have been a source of tension between the two countries for decades. Seoul officials downplayed the visit, saying it was not meant to stir up trouble.

    The islets, known in Japan as Takeshima and in Korea as Dokdo, have been under effective Korean control since the end of Japanese colonial rule after World War II.

    Last week, Japan renewed its claim to the islands in its annual defense report, prompting Korea to summon a Japanese diplomat in protest.

    The two countries share strong trade and tourism ties and work together on numerous foreign policy issues of mutual concern. But a series of territorial and historical issues have also plagued the relationship.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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