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S. Korea to triple budget in Japan island dispute

SEOUL: A South Korean Parliamentary committee has agreed to nearly triple a special budget for promoting Seoul’s sovereignty over an isolated set of islands also claimed by Japan, officials said yesterday.
The foreign affairs committee approved the 6.2 billion won ($5.7 million) budget on Friday, a foreign ministry official told AFP.
The money — up from this year’s budget of 2.3 billion won — would be used to fund state-led activities promoting the ownership of the Dokdo islands, which are known as the Takeshima islands in Japan.
Committee member Chung Moon-Hun said approval for the extra funding marked a moment of “rare, bipartisan” accord between rival lawmakers.
The decades-long dispute over the islands — which lie roughly midway between the two nations — boiled over in August after a surprise visit by South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak.
Tokyo said the trip, the first ever by a South Korean president, was deliberately provocative.
The budget will be used to run advertisements overseas promoting Seoul’s ownership of the islands and to collect more historical evidence to support the territorial claim.
Seoul insists Tokyo’s claim to the islands is erroneously founded in Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule over South Korea.
Japan is also embroiled in a separate row with China over a different set of disputed islands in the East China Sea.