LOS ANGELES — Wednesday’s 67th anniversary of the end of World War II collided with election-year politics in the Asia Pacific, spurring South Korea’s president, Japanese officials and Chinese activists to stage controversial gestures that have stirred up bitter wartime memories.
South Korea had already rekindled long-smoldering resentment of Japanese occupation and war-era abuses when its president, Lee Myung Bak, last week visited a cluster of rocky islets claimed by both his nation and Japan. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda recalled his nation’s ambassador to South Korea in protest of Lee’s visit Friday to the outcroppings known in Japan as Takeshima and in South Korea as Dokdo and coveted for their surrounding fisheries and energy reserves.
On Wednesday, the anniversary of Japan’s surrender that ended World War II and its colonial occupations, Japanese coast guards arrested 14 Hong Kong activists who landed at another set of disputed islands to stake a claim for Chinese sovereignty. The report by Japan’s NHK World network on the incident said the fishing boat bore a banner proclaiming that “China cannot give up an inch of its territory.”