2021-05-27 | The Korea Times
Calls are growing for Seoul to boycott the upcoming Tokyo Summer Olympics ― not out of concerns over COVID-19 infections but in protest against Japan's persistent claim over Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo in a map for the Olympics showing Japan's territory.
Former Prime Minister and former ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) Chairman Lee Nak-yon on Thursday wrote on Facebook that "Japan's Olympic organizing committee is marking Dokdo as Japanese territory, and dismissing Korea's demands to correct it."
He said Dokdo is Korea's territory historically, geographically and by international law.
"I strongly urge the Japanese government to correct this as soon as possible. The Olympic Charter states it pursues political neutrality, and Japan's act is against the Olympic spirit that pursues harmony. I also urge the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to take prompt and stern action against Japan's move," said Lee, who is anticipated to run for next year's presidential election.
"If Japan continues to refuse (to correct), the Korean government should take all possible measures, including a boycott of the Games."
Chung Sye-kyun, who is also a former prime minister and a presidential hopeful, also wrote on Facebook the previous day that the Korean government should consider all possible measures including an Olympic boycott unless the Japanese government deletes Dokdo from the map.
He said Japan's claim to Dokdo comes from when it annexed Korea, adding Japan should leave behind its dark past of imperialism.
Their postings came after Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 24 protested the Japanese Olympic Committee over the map showing the route of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay which marks Dokdo as Japan's territory. Reportedly, Japan refused to correct the map.
In 2019, the Korean government protested the organizer over the map, which at the time marked Dokdo more clearly. Following the protest, the organizer changed the map, making Dokdo less visible. However, when magnified, the map still shows Dokdo above Shimane Prefecture.
Opposition lawmakers are also criticizing Tokyo's persistence.
Rep. Kim Byong-wook of the main opposition People Power Party said, "Following the historical distortion in its history textbooks, Japan is making claims to Dokdo through the Olympics website. It is questionable whether Tokyo deserves to host the Games, in which people all around the world pursue harmony."
He said despite hosting the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, Korean delegations carried flags depicting the Korean Peninsula without Dokdo, because the IOC did not permit this due to Japan's claim. If Japan continues its claim to Dokdo on the Olympic stage, this is an "exemplary case of a double standard," Kim said.
During the 2018 Winter Games, South and North Korean athletes made a joint entrance to the opening ceremony and carried the Korean Unification flag without Dokdo. The joint inter-Korean women's ice hockey team also wore uniforms bearing a patch showing the Korean Peninsula without Dokdo included due to the IOC guidelines.
"The Korean government will never accept the map misleading Dokdo as Japan's territory," an official at the foreign affairs ministry said. "We will consult with related organizations including the Korean Olympic Committee to come up with active responses."
The Tokyo Games are weeks away, but it is still unclear whether it will be participated by major powerhouses in sport. The U.S. has issued a travel warning for Japan over the country's COVID-19 situation, casting doubts over American athletes' participation.