South Korean president Lee Myung-bak flew to disputed islands in the Sea of Japan (known in Korea as the East Sea) today, prompting a wave of outrage from the Japanese government who also lay claim the islands, the BBC reports.
The islands — called the Liancourt Rocks in English, but known as Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan — lie roughly half way between the countries.
South Korea has had a coastguard detachment on the islands since 1954, and two Koreans live there permanently (an octopus fisherman and his wife) but Lee is the first South Korean president to visit the island. The dispute has raged for centuries — in 2010 a South Korean historian used maps to argue the islands were rightfully Korean.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda called the visit "totally unacceptable" and has temporally recalled its ambassador to South Korea, Kyodo reports.
The islands are just one of many territorial disputes currently playing out in the Asia. The South China Sea in particular is rich in natural resources and good for fishing, and China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines and even India are also involved in a number of disputes. Last month China sent its largest ever fleet to a disputed area, and recently announced a new city on a barely inhabited island.
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