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Statement on Dokdo Islands Dispute

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Statement Renouncing Japan¡¯s Claim Over Dokdo Islands

The Dokdo Islands, situated in the East Sea off the Korean Peninsula, have always historically been part of Korean territory. Japan is twisting history by claiming these islands, disregarding this historical fact.

The most recent dispute erupted when the assembly in Shimane Prefecture, the Japanese territory closest to the islands, declared February 22 as ¡°Takeshima Day,¡± using the name of the islands in Japanese. A comment on February 23 by the Japanese ambassador to Korea, saying the islands are part of Japanese territory, made the situation worse.

Koreans vividly remember that Japan¡¯s maneuver to take over the islands in 1905 was a precursor to its unjust occupation of whole Korea and its aggressive imperialistic expansion in the Asia-Pacific region.

Instead of providing sincere reflections and compensations for its past militaristic policies, Japan is on the verge of repeating its aggressive history and threatening peace in Northeast Asia. Some Japanese politicians are reminiscing about its fascist period by elevating convicted war criminals as heroes, as suggested by Prime Minister Koizumi¡¯s annual visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, a nationalist war memorial which also entombs war criminals.

Moreover, revised Japanese school textbooks are being adapted that downplays Japan¡¯s war crimes and bloody massacre of civilians in Korea, China and other territories that it invaded or occupied during World War II.

To protest these alarming developments, Koreans residing in the Washington, DC area have gathered here today to renounce Japan¡¯s misguided expansionist ambitions. The dispute over the Dokdo Islands is not just a matter of territorial dispute between Korea and Japan, rather it reflects a dangerous revival of ultra-rightist movement and militarism in Japan that challenges the Korean people and the world. Japan is also disputing territories with China and Russia. With these developments, Japan is not suitable for a candidate in the United Nations Security Council.

The South Korean government should enact policies that counter this trend. Moreover, Koreans in north and south, and overseas, should unite in joint efforts to roll back Japan¡¯s militaristic ambitions.

Japan needs to convey sincere apologies and compensations to the Korean people for its brutal occupation of Korea, which included use of forced labor and sex slaves. Recently German President spoke at the Israeli parliament and apologized for the massacre of Jews and said that Germany will not forget nor attempt to forget its past crimes. Japan needs to be mindful of this.

We demand the following from the Japanese government:

1) Repeal all territorial claims over the Dokdo Islands and apologize to the Korean people for instigating the recent dispute.
2) Apologize sincerely to the Korean people for Japan¡¯s past aggressive invasion and occupation of Korea.
3) Renounce revival of militarism in Japan and show sincere efforts to promote peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia.
4) Provide just redress to the WW II victims of Imperial Japan´s war crimes before attempting to gain a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

March 26, 2005; Washington, DC

The DC-Area Korean Committee Against Japan¡¯s Claim Over Dokdo Islands

(Statement) 3/26/2005