(APTN) Japanese activists call for a peaceful resolution to island dispute

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September 29, 2012 by Water Wisdom

Fri Sep 28, 2012 By Kwokshu Leung

Asian countries “should pursue dialogue and consultation” to resolve disputes between Japan, South Korea and China “rather than clashing over sovereignty,” a Japanese civil group said on Friday.
“Rather than clashing over sovereignty, the countries involved should pursue dialogue and consultation to jointly develop resources and share the benefits,” said Atsushi Okamoto from The Civil Group.
Over the past week, The Civil group said it has collected over 1270 signatures endorsing their statement, including from Nobel Prize literature winner Kenzaburo Oe.
Recent months has seen territorial flare-ups between Japan and South Korea, after South Korean President Lee Myung Bak visited disputed islands known as Takeshima in Japanese and Dokdo in Korean, and called for an apology from the Japanese emperor.
Okamoto on Friday said that the disputed islands had been incorporated into Japan when the colonisation of Korea was underway in 1905 and that Japan had “seized” Korea’s diplomatic rights.
South Korea took the islands back in the early 1950s and deploys police there.
“This is not a mere ‘island’, but for Korea, this is the point of origin and symbol of Japan’s invasion” said Okamoto.
Citing territorial disputes with China that had sparked sometimes violent protests, Okamoto called on governments to put the issue of sovereignty aside, and to negotiate towards jointly developing the resources.
China claims the Japanese-held Senkaku islands, which are called Diaoyu by China, but Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda recently said his nation was not willing to compromise in the territorial dispute.
The islands are uninhabited but sit astride rich fishing waters and potentially large reserves of natural gas.
There has been recent sparring, with Chinese maritime surveillance vessels entering waters Japan claims, and Japanese coast guard firing a water cannon at Taiwanese boats approaching the islands.
Ko Odagawa, a researcher at Waseda University’s Institute for Asian Peace Studies, and a co-organiser of The Civil group, urged the Japanese government to find a peaceful resolution.
“We should not be thinking only about the 21st century, but also think about our children and the next generation in the 22nd century – what kind of East Asia, what kind world can we pass onto them” Uchida said.

(Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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