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Japan protests Takeshima trip by high-profile South Korean politician

Japan has lodged a formal protest after a South Korean opposition party leader made a trip to disputed islets, sparking a long-standing territorial row ahead of an expected three-way summit with China.

“It is completely unacceptable and extremely regrettable that the leader of South Korea’s opposition party landed at Takeshima despite repeated requests from Japan to refrain,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi, the government’s top spokesman, said on Tuesday.

Former South Korean Justice Minister Cho Kuk had visited Takeshima, a small, rocky archipelago known by Seoul as Dokdo, on Monday.

Seoul has controlled the islands off its east coast since 1945, when Tokyo’s colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula ended, but Japan says they are illegally occupied.

Japan “strongly protested against South Korea through diplomatic routes” on Monday, Hayashi said, reiterating an earlier Foreign Ministry statement.

A trilateral summit between Japan, South Korea and China is expected to take place in South Korea in late May, but a date for the talks has not yet been announced.

Cho was tipped to run for president before an academic admissions scandal engulfed his family in 2019.

In last month’s elections, his newly formed Rebuilding Korea party took advantage of discontent with the two main parties and won twelve seats.

“Japan’s claim of sovereignty over Dokdo is an assertion that Japan’s heinous war crimes, including invasion and war, massacre and plunder, torture and imprisonment of independence fighters, forced labor and the mobilization of comfort women, were justified,” Cho said at the meeting his party. X bill on Monday.

In January, Seoul lodged a “stern” protest against Tokyo’s inclusion of the same disputed islets in a tsunami advisory issued after a major earthquake.

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