A representative of the central government joined local officials in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, for a ceremony on Thursday to highlight the Japan's claim to sovereignty over a group of islets administered by South Korea.

The row over the islets in the Sea of Japan, called Takeshima in Japanese and Dokdo in Korean, was highlighted recently at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, when Japan protested the hoisting of a flag showing the islets as part of a unified Korean Peninsula at an exhibition match by the unified Korean women's ice hockey team.

Amid signs of a rapprochement between the two Koreas, a North Korean art troupe touring South Korea to celebrate the Olympics also included a song with lyrics asserting that the islets are "also part of our fatherland," in one of its performances.