Japan’s government plans to ask the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to settle a dispute with South Korea over a disputed isles group, a report said Thursday.
The move, reported by the Kyodo news agency and attributed to unnamed government sources, could occur as soon as Friday.
It would mark the latest step in a diplomatic spat that erupted after South Korean president Lee Myung-Bak last week visited the islands known in Japan as Takeshima and in Korean as Dokdo, which are claimed by both sides.
A day later, Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba raised the possibility of filing a case in the ICJ.
“We must consider measures to peacefully resolve the dispute based on international law, including filing a suit with the International Court of Justice,” he said.
Two Japanese ministers heightened tensions between the two nations Wednesday by visiting a Tokyo shrine honoring war criminals on the anniversary of Tokyo’s 1945 surrender.
Many Koreans resent Japan’s brutal colonization from 1910 to 1945. Historical disputes continue to mar the relationship, despite close economic ties and shared concerns over North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.
Japan may find it difficult to bring the island issue to the ICJ, which requires an agreement between the disputing parties to take it to court or for one party to sue the other.
South Korea repeatedly rejected proposals by Japan in the 1950s and 60s to let the court rule on the issue of the disputed islands.