Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Korean and Japanese Foreign Ministers to meet to discuss Tokto/Takeshima

Seoul and Tōkyō have agreed to hold talks on their disputed maritime border next month after a meeting of their foreign ministers on the sidelines of a conference in the Middle East.

ROK Foreign Minister Ban Kimoon and his Japanese counterpart Taro Aso, who have not met since December last year, also agreed to work to improve ties that have been frayed by the dispute over the South Korea-administered Tokto Islets, known in Japanese as Takeshima.

Here's hoping something genuine comes out of this. I have long said that it is a very bad thing for politicians and others in Japan and Korea to let political expediency and emotion over such issues derail what should be a future-oriented partnership.

[The Reuters article I linked above, interestingly, describes the islets as "sitting about the same distance from the two countries' mainlands." Maybe we should sic VANK on their butts*, since in fact the Japanese mainland is 15% further away from Tokto than is the Korean mainland. More importantly, the closest Japanese territory, Oki Island, is nearly twice as far from Tokto as the closest Korean territory, Ullŭng-do Island.]

* This is not meant as a serious comment. I think the VANK people have taken a noble mission—correcting inaccurate information about Korea for the greater good, things like "South Korea is a major country of Southeast Asia"—and politicized it in a way that can do little more than engender animosity.

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