Two major US newspapers have carried reports on the islands at the center of a territorial dispute between Japan and South Korea. The South Korean government allowed the foreign reporters to get an up-close look at the islands.
The Washington Post took up the territorial issue in a front-page story with photographs in its Friday's edition.
The article uses in its dateline the South Korean and Japanese names of the islands -- Dokdo and Takeshima.
The article says the islands are administered by South Korea, but claimed by Japan. It says the South Korean government took a dozen foreign journalists to the islands to underscore its claims of sovereignty.
The report says only 2 non-government employees -- a fisherman and his wife -- live on the islands. But 45 police officers are stationed there, and 3 South Korean telecom companies provide the islands with cell phone service.
Police officers are quoted as saying they would defend the islands to the death. But one of them has expressed admiration for Japanese people's economic achievement and diligence, describing them as "nice people."
The article says a Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman objected to the reporter's trip to the islands. He warned that visiting Takeshima from Seoul is not a domestic trip, but an international border crossing between Japan and South Korea.
The article explores the domestic political situations and surges of nationalism that are behind the deepening rift among East Asian countries.
The New York Times also carried an article on the islands on its World page, introducing details of the islands and interviews with police officers.
The South Korean government granted requests to visit the islands to about 10 foreign journalists and ferried them by helicopter on Thursday. The content of the articles are believed to be based on that excursion.
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