(AFP) – Jul 31, 2011
SEOUL — South Korea on Monday banned the entry of three Japanese lawmakers in a fresh diplomatic row over islands claimed by both countries, officials said.
Immigration officials stopped the three members of Japan's conservative opposition Liberal Democratic Party when they arrived at Seoul's Gimpo airport, a foreign ministry spokesman said.
The trio will be deported later, he said.
The group had planned to visit Ulleung island, the closest South Korean territory to the Seoul-controlled, uninhabited Dokdo islands in the Sea of Japan (East Sea), which are known in Japan as Takeshima.
A fourth lawmaker who had intended to join them cancelled his trip, citing a "busy political schedule". But Yoshitaka Shindo and two other members of parliament went ahead with the plan.
Shindo, the grandson of a general in the imperial Japanese army, has said in a video message on his website that "South Korea has illegally and militarily occupied part of what is undoubtedly our territory".
"We don't intend to fight there. We want to express our feeling of anger to the South Korean people," he said.
The two other lawmakers are Tomomi Inada, a former lawyer who denies the 1937 Nanjing massacre in China, and Masahisa Sato, a former member of the military who headed a Japanese reconstruction mission to Iraq in 2004.
The latest row began when flag carrier Korean Air mounted a test flight of its new A380 aircraft over Dokdo in June. Tokyo in response ordered public servants not to use Korean Air for a month.
South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak last week ordered officials to advise Tokyo that Seoul "cannot guarantee the lawmakers' safety" and to urge them to cancel the visit.
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