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(2nd LD) S. Korean Navy to hold Dokdo defense drill

All News 10:28 June 15, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES with Japan's response, other details from 4th para)

SEOUL, June 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Navy announced Thursday that it will conduct an exercise this week on defending the country's easternmost islets of Dokdo.

The two-day training to kick off later in the day is part of efforts to defend Dokdo from the possible aggression of "outside forces," the Navy said.

It was apparently referring to Japan, which claims the sovereignty over the Seoul-controlled islets in the East Sea.

This week's practice will involve a 3,200-ton Gwanggaeto the Great-class destroyer and six other ships of the Navy and the Coast Guard, plus four naval and Air Force aircraft, including an F-15K fighter jet and a P-3C Orion patrol plane.

A unit of marines will also stage a landing drill on Dokdo.

"The training this time will be similar to previous ones in size," a Navy official said.

The Dokdo defensive exercise is a regular event held twice a year since 1986, based on the scenario of an external threat.

An image of the South Korean Navy's drill aimed at defending Dokdo, a set of islets in the East Sea, in a photo provided by Yonhap News TV. (Yonhap)

It will be the first since the launch of the Moon Jae-in administration.

Japan has strongly protested the training.

On Seoul's reported plan for the drill, its Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida openly said in March, "It's regrettable and unacceptable" in light of the Japanese government's stance on the sovereignty over the islets.

In addition, Seoul and Tokyo have been at odds over a controversial deal on the issue of Japan's sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II.

Moon, a liberal leader who was a human rights lawyer, stressed that many South Koreans still disapprove of the 2015 accord to settle the decades-old historic issue with Japan's payment of 1 billion yen (US$9 million) for dozens of victims who are still alive. Koreans believe Japan has yet to fully atone for its wartime atrocity.

lcd@yna.co.kr
(END)

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