South Korea on Thursday began a two-day military exercise for the defense of Dokdo, a set of rocky islets in the East Sea to which Japan lays territorial claim.
“The Navy will conduct the regular Dokdo defense exercise aimed at preventing the infiltration of external forces into the South Korean territory, in conjunction with a flotilla-level field exercise by the Navy’s First Fleet (based in the East Sea),” according to the Navy.
The exercise is conducted twice a year, involving the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air Force and police. Navy destroyers, fighter jets and patrol aircraft are participating in the drills, the Navy said.
The exercise is likely to draw an angry reaction from Japan as it has repeatedly done before. Japan has long claimed the islets that lay closer to South Korea in the waters between the two countries are part of its own territory, recurring diplomatic tension with South Korea.
The exercise started one day after a South Korean government panel concluded the agreement with Japan that settled a wartime sex slavery dispute two years ago was defective.
A military official dismissed any political implication of the exercise’s timing, saying it had been set up a month earlier.