World Bulletin / News Desk
South Korean members of parliament visited a set of remote islands also claimed by Japan on Tuesday, a move likely to further fray ties between two of the most important U.S. allies in Asia.
The tour followed a visit by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in August, the first by a Korean leader, which prompted Japan to recall its ambassador to Seoul. The row was then overshadowed by a far more acute dispute between Tokyo and Beijing over another island group.
South Korea controls the islands, known as Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japan and equidistant from the mainlands of both countries.
A Korean police official on the islands said the parliamentarians, flying in by helicopters for the third such visit, were briefed on coast guard and other activities as part of an "audit" by parliament's Defence Committee.
Japan issued a formal protest to South Korea's ambassador.
"We've confirmed that the committee members landed on Takeshima," Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told reporters in Tokyo. "Takeshima is sovereign Japanese territory and such a step is completely unacceptable."
Japan, which ruled Korea for more than three decades last century, has said it will take the issue of the rocky island chain to the International Court of Justice.
But South Korea must first give its assent, a notion it rejects as it has long considered the islands its territory "historically, geographically and by international law".
Experts say there is no indication that the dispute would develop into the kind of diplomatic standoff that has severely damaged ties and trade between Tokyo and Beijing, although it remains a major irritant for the United States.
Strained relations between Seoul and Tokyo over issues related to Japan's colonial rule of Korea scuppered a planned intelligence sharing deal earlier this year.
A Korean study said has said there could be deposits of natural gas near the islands, although no exploratory work has been conducted.
According to a Financial Times article, China has confirmed an operation took place in Afghanistan, and it is expected there will be further military operations in the country
Rights group says restrictions on prisoner rights have increased, conditions don’t conform to int’l standards
Military says months-long conflict near border with China killed 74 soldiers, 13 civilians and at least 45 ethnic rebels
Activists say lawsuits based on notorious law on the rise under democratically-elected civilian gov’t
Pyongyang confirms trip to Beijing by most senior envoy in 9 months following dip in relations
Of 5 militant group members sentenced in 2015 shooting of Japanese man, 1 remains on the run
China's vast foreign exchange reserves in 2016 fell below $3 trillion for the first time in six years, as the authorities spent heavily to prop up the value of the yuan and cut down on outflows.
Employees of all public sector banks are on strike Tuesday
The move comes as previously friendly relations between Kuala Lumpur and Pyongyang have been badly strained by the killing with a nerve agent of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's half brother at a Malaysian airport on February 13.
The 42-year-old electrician was working alone and there was no domestic-related terror threat, Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said.
Abdul Sattar Edhi, who founded the world's largest volunteer ambulance network, would have been 89 years old today.
The decision, implementing a November UN resolution, comes with North Korea in the international spotlight after the assassination in Kuala Lumpur airport of Kim Jong-Nam, the estranged half-brother of leader Kim Jong-Un.
Park Geun-Hye was elected in 2012 with the highest vote share of any presidential candidate in South Korea's democratic era.
Construction workers and contractors were among those arrested on suspicion of negligence that caused the blaze, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
RCEP is seen as a more modest deal that calls for lower and more limited regulatory standards.