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S. Korea protests Japan over Dokdo survey

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, Aug. 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea issued a formal protest to Japan Friday over Tokyo's first opinion poll on Seoul's easternmost islets of Dokdo, calling on the neighboring country to stop such provocative actions.

The protest came one day after Japan's Cabinet Office released the results of the public survey showing that six out of 10 Japanese view Dokdo as Japanese territory in terms of history and international law.

"Our government sternly protests Japan's renewed provocative actions taken under the mask of a public survey over our territory Dokdo, which belongs to South Korea in terms of history, geography and the international law," Seoul's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

"We strongly urge Japan to stop such actions immediately."

Japan's continuous claims to Dokdo are "deplorable" and the string of provocative remarks by some Japanese leaders are posing "serious obstacles" to the constructive development of South Korea-Japan relations as well as to harmony in Northeast Asia, the statement said.

In protest against the public poll, Lee Sang-deok, the acting director-general at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' northeast Asian department, also called Takehiro Funakoshi, Japan's political affairs minister to South Korea, to the ministry, making a stern protest to the move.

Japan's poll on the South Korea-controlled islets marks just the latest in the country's continued series of attempts to lay claim to the outcroppings that lay about halfway between the two countries.

The Dokdo issue, one of many constant sources of conflict between South Korea and Japan, is expected to further fuel the already frosty bilateral relations, recently soured by politically charged banners and flags displayed in a regional football match between them in late July.

The countries exchanged barbs this week over the display in the football match last Sunday of Japanese supporters' war-time rising sun flags and South Korean supporters' banner alluding to Japan's denial of war-time atrocities.

Japan's hawkish finance minister Taro Aso recently angered South Korea and other countries by remarking that Japan should learn from German Nazi's tactics to rewrite the constitution.

The remarks were widely interpreted as a call to revise Japan's peace constitution to expand its military power. The minister later withdrew the remarks amid strong criticism.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/yonhap-news-agency/130802/s-korea-protests-japan-over-dokdo-survey