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Lee's Dokdo Visit Sinks Hopes for South Korea-Japan Détente

Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012

Japan-South Korea relations appear to have reached their nadir with the unprecedented visit of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to the disputed Dokdo islets last week. Lee’s visit represents a dramatic escalation in the territorial dispute with Japan, which also claims sovereignty over the atoll, known in Japan as Takeshima. The visit marks the first time a South Korean head of state has made an official visit, a redline that had not been breached up until this point in order to avoid provoking a diplomatic crisis with Japan.

Lee toured the atoll’s largest island, met with coast guard officials stationed there and insisted that the territory remains an integral part of South Korea. While addressing a gathering of police and coast guard officials, Lee declared, “Dokdo is indeed our territory and a place worth staking our lives to defend. Let's make sure to safeguard [the islets] with pride." ...

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