South Korea staged an expanded military exercise on and around its easternmost islets of Dokdo in the East Sea for the second and final day Monday, the Navy said, amid escalating tensions with Japan over historical and trade feuds.
The two-day regular exercise kicked off on the largest scale ever Sunday, involving all three armed services, as well as the Marine Corp and the Coast Guard, in a sign that Seoul is taking a hard-line stance on the deepening row with Japan.
The biannual drills, launched in 1986, usually have been held in June and December, but this year's drills were pushed back over apparent concern they could excessively aggravate tensions with Tokyo. Japan, which has made territorial claims to Dokdo, has protested the drills.
Launching the exercise, South Korea gave it a new name, the "East Sea Territory Protection Exercise," instead of its previous name of the Dokdo Defense Drills, which reflects "the significance and the scale of this exercise that aims to further consolidate the determination to defend our territories in the East Sea, including Dokdo," the Navy said.
The drills also came after a Russian warplane violated the Korean airspace above the islets last month.
On Sunday, the military mobilized 10 naval vessels, including its 7,600-ton Aegis-equipped destroyer, Sejong the Great, for the first time and 10 warplanes, such as F-15Ks. The number of armed forces involved nearly doubled this time, according to the Navy. (Yonhap)