Other Name(s): Takeshima (Japan); Dodko (Korea)
The Players: Japan, South Korea
The Dispute:Both nations claim sovereignty over the small islands in the Sea of Japan, known as the East Sea in Korea, based on conflicting historical evidence. The tug-of-war heated up roughly six decades ago, soon after Korea became independent from Japanese colonial rule. In 1951, the Rusk documents — official diplomatic correspondence from the U.S. State Department to South Korea — stated that Japan’s claim over the islands would not be renounced in the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which officially ended World War II. In response, Seoul stationed a coast-guard detachment on the islands in 1954. Since then, Tokyo has asked to take the matter to the International Court of Justice, but Korea has rejected the idea, claiming that the islands are undeniably Korean. Japan lists Takeshima as its territory in its annual defense White Paper. To protest against Japan’s territorial claims, a group of Koreans recently held a swim relay to the islands. Korean President Lee Myung-bak also visited, a move that may have bolstered his party’s nationalist credentials ahead of upcoming elections.