SEOUL – The South Korean Air Force flew fighter jets and other planes near Takeshima, a group of disputed islets off Shimane Prefecture, on Tuesday as part of a ceremony marking South Korea’s Armed Forces Day.
The air force conducted a demonstration of an airspace defense mission, dispatching the planes from its Daegu Air Base to the southwest of the islands, which are claimed by both Japan and South Korea. The ceremony was held at the base, located in the southern region of the country.
The Sea of Japan islands, known as Dokdo in South Korea, are effectively controlled by Seoul.
Shigeki Takizaki, director-general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, telephoned a minister at the South Korean Embassy in Tokyo to protest Seoul’s action, saying that the islands are part of Japan’s territory in light of history and international law.
Takizaki requested Seoul take action to prevent a recurrence.
Defense Minister Taro Kono criticized the flights at a news conference in Tokyo.
“Anyone can see that Japan and South Korea must cooperate in ensuring security (against North Korea), so I wonder whether the defense authorities should have taken such action,” Kono said. “I would like them to act sensibly.”
At the ceremony, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said his nation’s military is a military of peace that will lead the way for reconciliation and cooperation with North Korea, as well as a military of patriotism.
The air force also unveiled F-35A stealth fighter jets procured from the United States at the ceremony.
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