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Japan-South Korea slanging match over tiny islands dragged again into Olympic Games arena



A war of words over ownership of a group of tiny islands in the sea between Japan and South Korea spilled over to the Olympic Games on Wednesday.

The development arose as Tokyo criticised Seoul’s complaint over a map of Japan on the Tokyo Games website.

Ties between Japan and South Korea have often been fraught over their shared history.

The neighbours are also at loggerheads over Japan’s export curbs on high-tech materials bound for South Korea.

There was also the issue of compensation of South Koreans forced to work for Japanese companies during World War Two.

“Our government immediately summoned the relevant official at the Japanese embassy in South Korea to protest Japan’s improper assertion of its right of administration over Dokdo, while demanding that the related materials be immediately corrected.”

Japan’s top government spokesman dismissed South Korea’s protest.

“We communicated (to South Korea) that their position is absolutely unacceptable,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference, adding that the state of relations was “very severe”.

The two nations had a similar altercation at the Winter Olympics in South Korea last year.

Japan protested at the inclusion of the islands on a flag depicting a unified Korean peninsula.

Athletes from North and South Korea marched together under the flag of white and pale blue at the opening ceremony.

The islands were at the centre of a more serious clash on Tuesday.

That was when both South Korea and Japan responded to what they saw as a violation of their air space near the islands by Russian and Chinese military planes.


(Edited by Olawale Alabi)