South Korea’s denial of entry to three Japanese lawmakers attempting to visit the disputed islands of Dokdo/Takeshima is the latest in a long series of tit-for-tats between the two countries.
The rocky outcrop, known as Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan, is considered by both countries part of their own respective territories, and the dispute over them has been an ongoing spoiler in bilateral relations. Last month, the Japanese government told its Foreign Ministry staff not to use Korean Airlines for a month, in response to the company’s decision to conduct the inaugural flight of its A380 passenger jet above the isles.
The Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers’ attempt to enter ‘Dokdo’, via South Korea, meanwhile, had been long anticipated. Indeed, the Lee Myung Bak government in Seoul had advised the conservative Japanese politicians to refrain from visiting, given the heated civil response it would elicit throughout South Korea.