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Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda turned up the heat on South Korea over a territorial dispute Tuesday, deciding to take the issue to an international tribunal and telling his cabinet ministers to come up with other options the government can take against Seoul.
因处理中日领土争端问题受到国内尖锐批评后，野田佳彦说，日本应采取强硬措施应对前不久韩国总统李明博(Lee Myung-bak)登上日韩之间某争议岛屿一事。该岛为韩国所控制，在韩国叫做“独岛”(Dokdo)，日本叫“竹岛”(Takeshima)，在其它国家被称作利扬库尔岩(Liancourt Rocks)。
Coming on the heels of sharp criticism of his handling of a separate territorial row with China, Mr. Noda said Japan needs to take firm measures in response to a recent visit by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to contested islands which lie between the two countries. The Korea-controlled islands are referred to as Dokdo by South Korea and Takeshima by Japan. They are also known as the Liancourt Rocks.
'Takeshima has been our territory historically and also under international law,' Mr. Noda told a special meeting of cabinet ministers. 'We need to look into every possible measure we can take in the future.'
但首尔说，不会考虑东京让海牙国际法庭(International Court of Justice)对此事进行仲裁的提议。首尔坚持认为，韩国一直拥有该岛主权。
But Seoul said it wouldn't consider Tokyo's proposal to have the International Court of Justice look into the dispute. Seoul insists it has always had sovereignty over them.
A South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman on Tuesday referred to a Friday statement that rejected Japan's move, floated already last week.
'Dokdo is clearly Korean territory by history, geography and international law, and a territorial dispute does not exist. It should be made clear that the Japanese government's suggestion or plan to take Dokdo to the ICJ is not worth consideration,' the Aug. 17 statement said.
ICJ arbitration can't go ahead without agreement from both parties, so even if Japan files suit on its own, further proceedings are unlikely. Instead, analysts say Tokyo's real aim is to prevent further action by South Korea by drawing global attention to the issue.
In addition to taking the case to the ICJ, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told reporters that some Japanese cabinet ministers─including the trade and economy ministers─would put off meetings with their South Korean counterparts.
Reflecting how emotional ties between the Asian neighbors can be, one of Japan's most popular politicians touched on the controversial issue of so-called Korean 'comfort women,' thought to have served as sexual slaves for the Japanese military during World War II.
Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who has topped some polls as the most popular choice for the next prime minister, challenged the South Korean government to provide proof that the women were forcibly taken by the Japanese military through 'violence or intimidation.'
Mr. Hashimoto's views echo those of some nationalists who say the women served by their own choice and were paid to do so. The Korean government has severely criticized similar comments by Japanese politicians in the past.
The Japanese government has acknowledged the military's involvement and apologized for the women's suffering.
In an apparent bid to keep some channels open to mend fences in the future, officials from Japan, China and South Korea met Tuesday in the Chinese city of Qingdao for talks on a trilateral free-trade agreement.
Separately, Finance Minister Jun Azumi said he hadn't decided whether to extend the expansion of a currency-swap agreement with South Korea.
Last week, he suggested the ministry may roll back the swap deal─an agreement to temporarily lend each other dollars─to $13 billion at the end of October from $70 billion now. The two nations agreed last October to increase the swap line after South Korea expressed concern of potential capital outflows resulting from the European debt crisis, Japanese officials said.