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(LEAD) S. Korea's JCS chief vows stern responses to any violation of Dokdo airspace

Defense 15:36 October 08, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS chairman's remarks on GSOMIA in last 4 paras)

SEOUL, Oct. 8 (Yonhap) -- Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Chairman Gen. Park Han-ki on Tuesday vowed stern responses to any violations by Japan of South Korea's airspace over the easternmost islets of Dokdo.

"Should Japanese warplanes violate our airspace over Dokdo, we will take stern countermeasures as far as related law allows and in accordance with our manuals," Park said in an answer to lawmakers' questions during a parliamentary audit.

Any violation by Japan of the airspace over Dokdo would be considered intentional because the neighboring country has never violated the airspace over Dokdo and has always sent prior notice before its aircraft's entry into the Korean air defense identification zone (KADIZ).

Japan has repeatedly made its territorial claims to the small islets in the East Sea, where South Korea maintains a small police unit to show its effective control over them.

Renewing its claims in its defense white paper last month, Japan hinted that its fighter jets might be scrambled in the event of a clash over the sky, while citing a July incident where the South Korean Air Force fired hundreds of warning shots at a Russian warplane that intruded into the Dokdo airspace twice.

Coast guard members stationed on South Korea's easternmost Dokdo Islets salute the national flag while resolving to uphold the islets' defense one day ahead of Liberation Day on Aug. 14, 2019. (Yonhap)

Asked about the military information-sharing pact with Japan, named the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), the chairman said that the JCS will actively exchange its intelligence with Japan until its expiration on Nov. 22.

In August, South Korea announced its decision to terminate the bilateral pact following Japan's expert restrictions on South Korea, citing security concerns, in apparent retaliation against the South Korean top court's rulings on wartime forced labor last year.

"While going through this process (of intelligence exchanges), I think the Japanese side will feel more how badly necessary GSOMIA is," Park told lawmakers.

Japan, as well as the U.S., has called for the renewal of the pact, but South Korea has said that the decision may be reconsidered if Japan retracts the export curbs.


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