|South Korean students attend an event to mark "Dokdo Day" in Seoul, South Korea, Oct. 25, 2013. South Korea's military and coast guard on Friday conducted a joint defense drill in waters off the country's easternmost Dokdo islets, known as Takeshima in Japan, to commemorate the "Dokdo Day" amid escalating tensions with Japan over the rocky outcroppings. (Xinhua/Park Jin-hee)
SEOUL, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's military and coast guard on Friday conducted a joint defense drill in waters off the country's easternmost Dokdo islets, known as Takeshima in Japan to commemorate the "Dokdo Day" amid escalating tensions with Japan over the rocky outcroppings.
"This drill is carried out as part of measures to respond to far-right (Japanese) civilians who seek to illegally land on the islets," Defense Ministry spokesman Wi Yong-seop told reporters at a briefing.
Wi said that the Dokdo islets has belonged to the South Korean territory historically and effectively, stressing that the drill would show Japan the military's firm will to defend the islets in any circumstances.
South Korea has maintained a small police detachment since 1954 to the islets, around 90 kilometers southeast of the country's Ulleung Island.
Seoul has held a defense drill twice a year since 1986 near the Dokdo islets, but the Friday drill unprecedentedly involved landing operation exercises by the Navy troops, according to Yonhap News Agency. Some members of the Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) carried out landing operation training from a UH-60 helicopter.
The drill, which was carried out for around four hours from 8 a. m., mobilized five warships, including 3,200-ton destroyers, and a coast guard patrol ship. Two F-15K fighter jets and several helicopters also joined the exercise.
Diplomatic relations between Seoul and Tokyo have been strained since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in late 2012. The Abe-led government conducted its first survey on Japanese adults in June to ask whether the islets belong to Japan or South Korea.
Japan's Foreign Ministry produced a video claiming its sovereignty on the islets and distributed it on the Internet on Oct. 16, bringing strong backlash from the South Korean government.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye has yet to make a state visit to Japan since she took office in February. Park traveled to China in June and to the United States in May.
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