S Korea gets set for diplomatic war with Japan

Seoul, March 23 | Updated: Mar 24 2005, 05:30am hrs
South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun on Wednesday said Seoul was ready for a diplomatic war with Tokyo as tensions flared over a territorial row and a Japanese textbook critics say whitewashes Japanese militarism.

Roh said in a letter addressed to the South Korean public, the recent disputes can be called attempts by Tokyo to justify a past he called colonialist and expansionist. Japan colonised the Korean Peninsula from 1910-1945. This government has no choice but to respond firmly, Roh said in the three-page letter.

South Korea was angered when a local Japanese assembly last week passed a symbolic measure asserting Japan's claim to islands, called Tokto in Korea and Takeshima in Japan. The desolate islands are claimed by Tokyo and Seoul.

Seoul has also tensely awaited the result of Tokyo's review of a new history textbook, which critics say whitewashes Japanese military atrocities in Asia and its brutal colonial rule over Korea.

These actions are not just undertaken by a single local government or some thoughtless extreme nationalists, but they are done under the abetting of the Japanese leadership and the central government, Roh said.

Reuters