(AA) – The U.S.’s Central Intelligence Agency has found itself caught up in a row between allies South Korea and Japan over a small group of rocky islands, local media reported Monday.
South Korea’s foreign ministry is attempting to get the CIA to amend entries in its World Factbook that refer to the islands, known as the Dokdo islands by Koreans and as the Takeshima isles in Japan, national news agency Yonhap said.
Both countries claim sovereignty over the islands, which have a surface area of less than 50 acres (200 square meters), but the South Korean coast guard has maintained a base there since 1954. North Korea also claims the outcrop.
The islands, also known as the Liancourt Rocks, lie in rich fishing grounds and the nearby seabed may contain natural gas deposits.
Country maps on the CIA’s online World Factbook refer the islands on a map of Japan as the Liancourt Rocks but a smaller scale map of South Korea does not include the area occupied by the islands.
“We are aggressively making efforts to rectify the matter by delivering our stance to the CIA and the State Department,” a South Korean foreign ministry official was quoted by Yonhap.
The official added that the government had “clearly delivered its stance” over the naming of the sea between South Korea and Japan – the CIA names it the Sea of Japan while South Korea prefers to call it the East Sea.
Seoul has claimed that Japan recognized the islands as Korean territory in 1696 but annexed them in 1905 before colonizing the Korean peninsula. The islands were restored to Korea after World War II, South Korea alleges.
Last month the Japanese government released an online video furthering its claim, condemned as “unacceptable” by Seoul.
Such disputes are among several disputes in Seoul-Tokyo relations, stemming from Japan’s 1910-45 occupation of Korea.
Having taken office at the start of 2013, South Korean President Park Geun-hye is yet to agree to an official summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The main bone of contention has been Tokyo’s refusal to recognize demands for an apology and compensation by Korean ‘comfort women’ used as sex slaves by Japanese troops during the occupation.