Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba said Aug. 11 that Japan wants the International Court of Justice to take up the territorial dispute with South Korea over the Takeshima islets.
Genba told reporters, "By clarifying Japan's case, we want the international community to be better informed about (the Takeshima issue)."
The comment comes a day after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visited the islands, called Dokdo in South Korea.
However, because both nations in a contested case have to agree before the ICJ takes any action, there is little possibility that the international body will actually hear the dispute.
A high-ranking official with South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said on Aug. 11, "Our fundamental stance is that Dokdo is South Korean territory and not an area in dispute. We will not agree to having it heard (before the ICJ)."
Genba met with Masatoshi Muto, the ambassador to South Korea who was recalled Aug. 10, to discuss what steps Japan should take before making his comment about submitting the case to the ICJ.
Japan last tried to present its case over Takeshima to the ICJ in 1962. It first tried in 1954. But on both occasions, South Korea refused to have the case heard before the ICJ.
Japan had not made a similar overture for half a century out of consideration for bilateral relations.
However, Genba showed that all bets are now off as Lee went ahead with the visit despite calls from Japan not to.
"Since South Korea has raised the slogan of a 'Global Korea,' they should respond positively to our submittal," he said.
Genba also said the government would study setting up a structure to deal with territorial issues that would cover not only Takeshima, but also the Northern Territories.
Japan signaled its displeasure over Lee's visit to Takeshima by recalling Muto on the evening of Aug. 10.
Regarding his return to South Korea, Genba said, "We will consider the timing while taking a number of factors into account, including the response by South Korea."
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