SEOUL, Feb. 22 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean government criticized Japan on Friday for holding an event to promote its territorial claims to South Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo, and urged it to drop the "unjustifiable and meaningless" arguments.
Conflicts have grown over Dokdo after Tokyo has renewed its territorial claims to the rocky outcroppings in the East Sea, or the body of water between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
Souring the relations even further, Japan's Shimane Prefecture, which claims administrative sovereignty over the islets, designated Feb. 22 as a day to promote Takeshima, the Japanese name for Dokdo, in 2006, and has since hosted various programs to strengthen its claims on the day, with no exception this year.
"The South Korean government once again sternly urged Japan to abolish ordinances about the designation of the Dokdo day and to immediately stop unjustifiable territorial claims to Dokdo," foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said in a statement.
The Seoul government in particular criticized Japan for its dispatch of Aiko Shimajiri, a parliamentary secretary with the Cabinet Office, to the event. Her attendance marks the first time that the central government had its senior official attend the ceremony.
"We expressed deep regrets over and strongly protested Tokyo's sending of a government official to such an unjustifiable event," Cho said, calling on it to show "a genuine willingness for the bilateral development by stopping its unjustifiable and meaningless territorial rights."
Declaring once again that the islets are "an integral part of Korean territory historically, geographically and under international law," the South Korean government vowed "stern responses to any attempt to violate its territorial rights."
The ministry also said it will summon Japanese Embassy officials in Seoul to protest against the incident.
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