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No progress in Seoul-Tokyo Talks


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No progress in Seoul-Tokyo talks

Japan's actions have sparked an emotional response from Seoul

"No progress at all" has been made in talks between Japan and South Korea over a disputed maritime territory, says Korea's vice-foreign minister.

Yu Myung-hwan was speaking after the first round of talks in Seoul with his Japanese counterpart, Shotaro Yachi.

Talks resumed later on Friday but no breakthrough was reported.

Seoul has vowed to use force to stop Japan carrying out a planned ocean survey around islands known as Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan.

It has sent about 20 gunboats to the islands, where Japanese survey boats are awaiting orders to begin the survey.

Both countries claim the uninhabited islands, which have been controlled by South Korea for decades.

But the row also reflects unresolved tensions stemming from Japan's 1910-45 occupation of the Korean peninsula.

Nearly 100 Japanese lawmakers also visited the controversial Yakusuni shrine to Japan's war dead on Friday, in a move likely to further stoke tensions.

'Frank talks'

Ahead of the talks on Friday, a small group of Korean protesters burned the Japanese flag and chanted anti-Japanese slogans outside Tokyo's embassy. "Japan has again caught the disease of aggression," one placard said.

The two vice-ministers emerged from the first round of talks after about 90 minutes.

"We talked about our position. Japan talked about its position," said Mr Yu.


Known as Dokdo (Solitary islands) in Korea, Takeshima (Bamboo islands) in Japan

Also known as Liancourt rocks

Japan's and South Korea's claims go back centuries, but islands occupied by S Korea since 1953

Just 230,000 sq m in size, with no fresh water

But surrounding waters valuable for their fishing

Islands row divides press

"We need to talk more. The positions of the two sides are so different... that we have to talk frankly."

Mr Yachi told reporters: "The mood on both the Japanese and South Korean sides was very stern. We will continue discussions."

The two men talked over dinner at a hotel before reconvening formal discussions, which are now reported to have ended without any fresh advances.

Tokyo decided to conduct the survey after South Korea announced it would register Korean names for seabed features around the disputed islands at an international oceanographic meeting in June.

Japan says it needs to carry out the survey in order to submit a counter-proposal, but has offered to call it off if South Korea withdraws its name registration plans - something Seoul refuses to countenance.

Earlier, Mr Yu insisted that South Korea would prevent the survey from going ahead "even if it means mobilising physical force". Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso on Friday warned any interference with the boats would "clearly violate the principles of international law".

The dispute over the islands is a recurring flashpoint in relations between the two countries. The islands sit among rich fishing grounds and the area may also contain gas deposits.

South Korea is REALLY angry at Japan...


Edited by frogfish
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