|No animals were harmed in the making of this protest.|
Tokto (aka Dokdo) is a big deal in South Korea, and Japanophiles and Korea critics are constantly telling us that no one in Japan really cares about the islets. Yet here we have opposition legislators trying to spark a Seoul-Tokyo row by entering the Republic of Korea and consequently being barred from entry before they even left, not to mention the Japan Times printing it as the top story of the day:
South Korean officials told the three that their visit could "trigger actions that would threaten public safety" and sought their swift return to Japan.I was on the fence about blocking these political agitators from entering, but when even the JT acknowledges they were essentially on some sort of reconnaissance mission (and not even of the territory they're claiming!), I say they're lucky they were just turned around at the airport.
The lawmakers remained unconvinced and called on the officials to provide detailed explanations for denying their entry.
The trio were planning to inspect Ullŭngdo (Ulleungdo), the administrative and military base for the South Korean-controlled islets called Dokdo by South Korea and Takeshima by Japan, on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The lawmakers said they do not intend to renew Japan's territorial claims to the disputed islets, but the South Korean government said the refusal was based on the immigration control law.
"Takeshima is Japanese territory," Shindo told South Korean media at the airport. "Our positions are different and we need to talk to each other on the issue." He also warned that Seoul's decision to deny them entry would evolve into a "big diplomatic problem."
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano had expressed Japan's "deep regret" over the unusual step taken by South Korea and said Tokyo was making a last-ditch effort to urge Seoul to let the lawmakers in.
"The lawmakers intended to inspect the island legally and in light of our friendly relations, we very much regret that South Korea took such a measure," Edano said at a press conference.