Tokyo: Reports said on Friday that South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak has arrived on remote islands which are the centre-point of a territorial dispute with former colonial ruler Japan.
The unprecedented visit has ignited tempers in Tokyo, which has warned of recalling its ambassador to South Korea or have him return temporarily in a show of strong protest.
According to Jiji Press, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said Lee had landed at the rocky volcanic outcrops in the Sea of Japan (East Sea).
Lee is the first-ever South Korean President who is visiting the islands.
Earlier, Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba had said that any such trip "would have a great impact on Japan-South Korea relations" and Japan would "have to respond firmly".
If the visit is made, "it would go against our country's position and so we cannot accept it," Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said at a news conference, adding that the development is "extremely regrettable".
The South Korean move is apparently driven by Seoul's willingness to take a hard-line stance on the territorial dispute ahead of the anniversary next Wednesday of the end of World War II, which for South Koreans marked liberation from the 35-year Japanese colonial rule.
The islet group consists of two small islands and numerous reefs.
Japan claims it as part of Shimane Prefecture, while South Korea says it is part of its North Gyeongsang Province.
(With Agency inputs)
First Published: Friday, August 10, 2012, 16:16