Go to Contents Go to Navigation

(3rd LD) Defense ministry dismisses Japan's claim over Dokdo, vows stern response

Defense 16:58 July 24, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS Seoul's response to Russia's latest statement in paras 8-14)

SEOUL, July 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's defense ministry on Wednesday dismissed Japan's renewed territorial claim to Dokdo amid military tensions over a Russian warplane's violation of its airspace near the easternmost islets in the East Sea.

On Tuesday, the Russian A-50 early-warning jet intruded into Korean airspace twice near Dokdo, prompting the South Korean Air Force to fire hundreds of warning shots in accordance with operation manuals, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

Referring to the incident, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga claimed Tuesday that the Russian warplane violated its territory. Tokyo said it also lodged a protest with Seoul over the incident.

"Japan's claim does not deserve any consideration," the ministry said in a release. "As Dokdo is our inherent territory historically, geographically and by international law, we make it clear that we will sternly respond to any outside intrusion into Dokdo."

During the Russian plane's airspace intrusion, the Japanese Self-Defense Air Force also scrambled its fighter jets, according to Suga.

Japan's renewed territorial claim came at a time when the Seoul-Tokyo ties have plunged to their lowest ebb over Japan's recent export restrictions on South Korea. It is seen as political retaliation for last year's Supreme Court rulings here against Japanese firms over wartime forced labor.

South Korea maintains a small police unit on the pair of rocky outcroppings to show its effective control over the land. Japan has repeatedly laid claim to the islets.

This image captured from Russia's defense ministry website shows its A-50 early warning and control airplane. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This image captured from Russia's defense ministry website shows its A-50 early warning and control airplane. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Regarding the matter, Russia on Wednesday denied any violations, a claim flatly rejected by the Seoul ministry.

In an official statement sent to the ministry later in the day, the Russian government claimed its warplane did not violate airspace, and the South Korean Air Force rather conducted unprofessional maneuvers that jeopardized the safety of its crews.

Apart from the reconnaissance plane, two Russian Tu-95 bombers and two Chinese H-6 warplanes also entered South Korea's air defense identification zone (KADIZ) near the islets without prior notice Tuesday, according to the JCS.

The two sides said they had conducted the first combined air patrol.

"Russia's claims not only distort facts but also run counter to its earlier expression of regret, pledges for precise investigation and efforts to prevent any recurrence," the ministry said in a release.

Stressing that its operations were carried out in accordance with due procedures, the Seoul ministry said it will "let Russia know of such facts based on clear pieces of evidence during (envisioned) working-level discussions."

It appears to contradict what Seoul's presidential office announced what Russia had said about Tuesday's incident.

Earlier in the day, Cheong Wa Dae said that Russia had expressed "deep regret" over the incident, saying that a technical problem appears to have caused the plane to have trespassed in the airspace.

A Seoul ministry official, however, said that South Korea does not believe such an incident could be caused by a technical glitch.

"Upon launching a probe into the incident, Russia today asked us for data related to the airspace intrusion," the official said, adding that the ministry is reviewing the scope of the information it could provide to Moscow.

According to Russia's TASS news agency on Tuesday, Russia's defense ministry denied any violations, saying their jets had carried out planned drills over international waters.

Sergei Kobylash, the commander of the Russian aerospace forces, even called the actions taken by South Korea "aerial hooliganism," the news agency reported.


Send Feedback
How can we improve?
Thanks for your feedback!