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S. Korean civic groups protest Japanese lawmakers' disputed visit

08-01-2011 15:25 BJT

SEOUL, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- Several civic groups on Monday staged protests outside the international terminal at Gimpo International Airport against a planned visit by Japanese lawmakers to an island near disputed islets claimed by both South Korea and Japan.

South Korean protesters hold placards during an anti-Japanese
rally at Gimpo airport in Seoul, capital of South Korea, on
August 1, 2011 as three Japanese lawmakers arrive at the airport.
Several civic groups on Monday staged protests outside the
international terminal at Gimpo International Airport against
a planned visit by Japanese lawmakers to an island near disputed
islets claimed by both South Korea and Japan. (Xinhua/Park Jin hee)

Several hundred people, mostly furious and upset, continuously chanted slogans denouncing three Japanese lawmakers who left for South Korea earlier in the day, despite Seoul's warning that they would be denied entry and sent back to Tokyo.

The three lawmakers from Japan's conservative Liberal Democratic Party planned to visit Ulleung Island off the east coast of the Korean peninsula, the closest South Korean territory to the disputed islets known as Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan. A lawmaker who had planned to go along with them cancelled the trip citing a busy schedule.

Many held placards and posters carrying some strong words of criticism to the Japanese lawmakers.

A South Korean man wears a mask showing "JAPAN GO HOME" during an
anti-Japanese rally at Gimpo airport in Seoul, capital of South
Korea, on August 1, 2011 as three Japanese lawmakers arrive at the
airport. Several civic groups on Monday staged protests outside
the international terminal at Gimpo International Airport against
a planned visit by Japanese lawmakers to an island near disputed
islets claimed by both South Korea and Japan. (Xinhua/Park Jin hee)

"Dokdo is clearly South Korea's territory, but Japan tries to do something about it by making it as an international conflict. But it's never going to happen. Dokdo is part of South Korea as long as we are here," said Park Byeong-hyun, 47.

"I think it's wrong. Dokdo is South Korea's and how can we accept it when Japan argues it's theirs. We can't. We can't accept it," said Jung Hae-im, 68.

The atmosphere turned even more ferocious when the news broke out that the three Japanese lawmakers arrived at Gimpo International Airport. The protesters burned a placard with the faces of the Japanese lawmakers.

As it had been warned, the lawmakers were banned from entry at the immigration checkpoint. Nevertheless, the protesters blocked the arrivals gate and vigorously urged the immediate return of the lawmakers.

The latest row started when Japan's Foreign Ministry banned its officials from using South Korea's Korean Air for a month in protest against a recent flyover by a Korean Air Lines A380 above the disputed islets.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said last week that Seoul could not guarantee the safety of the lawmakers if they visit Ulleung Island and urged them to scrap the plan.

Both South Korea and Japan claim sovereignty over the lonely islets, lying halfway between the two countries. South Korea has maintained control of the rocky outcrops since 1950s.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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