An 18th-century map of Spain links Dokdo to Korea: the Moon

MADRID / SEOUL – President Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday he believed an 18th-century map shown to him by the Spanish Senate library showed Dokdo had always been part of Korea, Cheong said Wa Dae.

Moon, who flew to Spain after a summit in Austria, ends his three-day state visit on Thursday. He started his trip to Europe last week with the G-7 summit in England.

The map, which was produced in 1737 and is believed to be the oldest drawn by a European, shows the Dokdo Islets as part of Joseon – the kingdom that predated modern Korea – according to the presidential office.

Recently, the feud over Dokdo, which Japan claims as its territory, threatened to strain already sour ties. Tokyo canceled a side meeting with Seoul at the G-7 summit over South Korea’s plans for military exercises around the islets, according to a Seoul official.

Japan denied that the two sides had any prior arrangement. The announcement that Tokyo called off a rally at the last minute is “extremely unfortunate,” said Katsunobu Kato, the main spokesperson for the Japanese government. He said Tokyo called on Seoul to cancel military exercises involving Dokdo.

The exercises, held every two years since 1986, took place on Tuesday as scheduled, with the Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard joining the exercise, which aims to bolster preparedness to protect islets in the event of a external attack.

The two Asian neighbors are expected to continue fighting for decades as the Tokyo Olympics approach in July. Japan recently rejected Korea’s request that Tokyo stop using an Olympic map that marks Dokdo as its territory, prompting Seoul to ask the International Olympic Committee to intervene.

Some Korean politicians have even suggested boycotting the games, and the latest local poll found that a majority of Koreans were in favor of the proposal. According to a survey conducted by WingKorea last week of 1,017 people aged 18 and over, 53% of those surveyed approved of the idea.

But Seoul’s foreign ministry is pushing the government away from boycott calls.

“Skipping the Olympics is not and was not considered,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Choi Young-sam said.

The Moon government, which has little time to mend the worsening Seoul-Tokyo relationship before Moon leaves office in May next year, is showing more flexibility in attempting a dialogue to resolve the issues. disputes with Japan.

But the change in tone alone doesn’t seem to have convinced Japan to come out for talks.

Tokyo is adamant that Seoul is suggesting ways to settle disputes involving a series of Korean court rulings since 2018, which have led some of Japan’s biggest companies to compensate Koreans who were forced to work for them during the Second World War.

Korean wartime workers and sex slaves – known as “comfort women” – have won lawsuits against the Japanese government for damages. But the Japanese government refuses to uphold the decisions, arguing that the 1965 treaty signed by the two countries settled their claims “completely and definitively”.

Some believe Moon could use the Olympics to reconnect with his Japanese counterpart at the last minute, although many consider Moon unlikely to make the necessary concessions to make that happen.

By Choi Si-young and Joint Press Corps ([email protected])