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South Korea summons Japanese diplomat over disputed islets claim

South Korea summoned a Japanese diplomat in Seoul to lodge a protest over the Japanese Foreign Minister's recent claim to disputed islets in the east of South Korea, local media reported on Tuesday.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry summoned Naoki Kumagai, deputy chief of mission at the Japanese Embassy on Monday, and called for an immediate retraction of the remarks on Dokdo, local Yonhap News Agency reported.

A day earlier, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi renewed his country’s claim to Dokdo in a parliamentary policy speech.

"The repetition of wrongful claims would not be of any help in joint efforts to establish a 'future-oriented' relationship," the South Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

South Korea effectively controls the islets, which Tokyo refers to as Takeshima and claims as Japanese territory.

Tokyo's renewed claims to Dokdo came despite the two countries’ ongoing efforts to revitalize the strained bilateral relations.

Bilateral relations between the two Asian nations, also allies of the US in the region, nosedived due to issues stemming from Japan’s colonial rule over the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

In 2018, a South Korean court asked Japanese firms to pay compensation to the victims of Japan's wartime forced labor.

Tokyo rejected the ruling and said the issue was resolved in the past.

In 2019, both countries imposed trade restrictions against each other that further dented the relations between Seoul and Tokyo.

However, the administration of President Yoon Suk Yeol, who took office in May last year, is trying to improve ties with Tokyo as both countries face a growing threat from North Korea.

In November last year, Yoon met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Cambodia for the first time and agreed to resolve all pending issues between the two countries.

Source: Anadolu Agency