South Korea has turned down Japan’s proposal to resolve the territorial dispute through legal measures, reports the Asahi Shimbun. Japan will take the case to the international tribunal unilaterally.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced the plan to take the dispute to the International Court of Justice following South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s visit to the Dokdo Islands, known as Takeshima in Japan. The move was put in black-and-white and was handed over to South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade by Kotaro Otsuki, a counselor from the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, and Japan proposed the joint filing of a suit over sovereignty of the outlying territories.

South Korean ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said in a news conference that Seoul will formally reject the proposal through an official document. “We will relay to Japan our longstanding position in explicit terms in writing,” he added. South Koreans are wary of “over inflaming” the issue. Japan said it will draft a complaint and take the case to the ICJ unilaterally. Still, South Korea’s consent is needed for the tribunal to proceed.

Noda also described in writing Lee’s remarks regarding Emperor Akihito as “regrettable”.