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Last Updated: Monday, 8 January 2007, 07:53 GMT
S Korea bid to solve sea dispute
South Korean police officers stand guard on the Dokdo/Takeshima islands
A set of islands in the sea are also contested
South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun has proposed renaming a body of water which is hotly contested with Japan as the Sea of Peace, officials confirmed.

Mr Roh made the suggestion at an informal meeting with Japan's PM Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the Apec summit in Vietnam last November.

The body of water between the two is widely known as the Sea of Japan, but South Korea calls it the East Sea.

Japan has reportedly not given any official response to the suggestion.

An official in South Korea's presidential office confirmed a local newspaper report of Mr Roh's suggestion to his Japanese counterpart.

map

"It is true that Roh suggested South Korea and Japan give up their respective names for the disputed waters and find a new mutually satisfactory name during his latest summit with Abe," he was quoted by Yonhap news agency as saying.

Confrontation

Mr Roh informally proposed calling the waters "Sea of Peace" or "Sea of Friendship", he said.

The official said the president made the suggestion "as he saw the need to resolve pending diplomatic disputes between South Korea and Japan from a broader perspective."

But there have been no further discussions as "Japan has failed to show any response thus far", the official added.

The name of the body of water between South Korea and Japan is a bone of contention between the two countries.

The sea became widely known as the Sea of Japan during Japan's colonisation of the Korean peninsula between 1910 and its defeat in World War II in 1945.

South Korea says it has been called the East Sea for centuries.

The two nations also lay claim to islands in the sea - called Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan - which sit in rich fishing grounds.

Mr Roh has been a frequent critic of Japan over its wartime past, accusing Tokyo of failing to repent fully for its colonial conduct.

Rivalry between the two nations has often flared into angry words.




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