World Bulletin/News Desk
South Korea is stepping up the defense of territory off its east coast by planning a military drill in an apparent warning to Japan, according to local news agency Yonhap.
It is understood the exercise will be carried out November 24 on and surrounding rocky islets known in Korea as Dokdo.
“The drill will include a landing training exercise by a squad of Marines from a UH-60 helicopter,” a government source was quoted as saying.
Despite previous complaints by Japan, Seoul’s defense ministry spokesperson Wi Yong-seop also insisted at a news briefing that the military would “go ahead with the exercise as planned.”
South Korea has held such drills biannually since 1986, and employs police to effectively control the islets, called Takeshima in Japan but which are closer to the Korean Peninsula.
The Japanese government has consistently angered Seoul by laying claim to the territory – only last month, the South’s foreign ministry released a statement describing Tokyo’s attitude as “deplorable.”
The Dokdo dispute took a further twist this week after South Korean singer Lee Seung-chul was refused entry to Japan without a specific explanation Sunday – having performed on the islets in question ahead of this year’s 69th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese rule between 1910 and 1945.
On Tuesday, foreign ministry spokesperson Noh Kwang-il told reporters in Seoul it was “regrettable for a Korean national to have been reportedly refused entry into Japan for dubious reasons.”
On the same day, the South’s government insisted it would push ahead with a Dokdo tourist safety facility after claims that pressure from Japan had led to the scrapping of the project.
Since taking office at the start of last year, South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye has refused to hold an official summit with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Having been seated next to another for an awkward dinner meeting at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation – or APEC - summit in China earlier this week, Park and Abe both travelled onwards to Myanmar for further engagements and now face a further opportunity for discussion at a meeting of G20 leaders in Australia.
Last Mod: 14 Kasım 2014, 11:13