Posted July. 15, 2011 03:50,
Updated January. 01, 1970 09:00
The Japanese Foreign Ministry has ordered all of its diplomats to boycott Korean Air flights for a month in protest of the carrier`s pilot flight over the disputed Dokdo islets, the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun said Thursday.
The order was issued Monday for ministry officials and those at overseas diplomatic offices through email messages under the names of the director in charge of Korea-Japan relations and the general affairs manager under Japan`s chief cabinet secretary.
Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Satoru Sato told The Dong-A Ilbo over the phone, We took such action to protest Korean Air`s ruffling of feathers of the Japanese people with its flight over Takeshima (the Japanese name of Dokdo), adding, We issued the order under approval of our Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto and we also notified it to Korean Air via the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.
This is the first time for the Japanese government to take such a measure, Sato said.
Korean Air conducted on June 16 a test flight of its largest plane A380 from Incheon to Dokdo before beginning operations of the Korea-Japan route.
Matsumoto has expressed regret over this and filed a complaint with the Korean government.
On criticism from Japan`s Liberal Democratic Party for what it calls the ministrys insufficient action, however, the Japanese Foreign Ministry has sought to take additional measures.
The daily Asahi said, Officials of the Japanese Foreign Ministry use Japanese airlines so the measure will hardly be effective.
The chance that the measure will affect ordinary travelers cannot be ruled out, however.
Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry spokesman Cho Byeong-je told reporters Thursday, The order to refrain from using Korean Air is tantamount to a Japanese government sanction on a private Korean company. So the government is taking it seriously. Given the status of bilateral relations, the Japanese governments latest measure is disappointing and very regrettable.
Seoul sent a message of protest against the measure Tuesday to Kanehara Nobukatsu, minister for general affairs at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul and urged its cancellation.
A Korean government official put it another way. In a word, its childish, he said.
Korean Air, however, has made no comment on the matter and refrained from issuing an official response.