Seoul renews feud with Tokyo over disputed territory


South Korea began military exercises aimed at defending its easternmost islets Thursday, prompting a swift protest from Japan -- which also lays claim to the territory in question, known as Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese.

The biennial drills have been held regularly since 1986, but these are the first of their kind under new South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has already risked upsetting Tokyo by undermining a 2015 agreement settling Japan's colonial-era sexual slavery.

Japan quickly responded by lodging an official protest at the South Korean Embassy in Tokyo, as a Foreign Ministry official described the exercises as "unacceptable" and "extremely regrettable," according to Kyodo News.

But Seoul's Foreign Ministry issued its own firm statement, with a spokesperson telling reporters: "Dokdo is clearly part of our territory in terms of history, geography and international law." The South also effectively controls the islets.

Local news agency Yonhap added that the official insisted "any provocation from Japan in that regard will not be tolerated."

South Korea's Navy announced the drills would continue for a second day, with marines, warships, and fighter jets all involved.

Seoul and Tokyo frequently trade barbed comments on sensitive issues stemming from Japan's 1910-45 colonization of the Korean Peninsula.

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