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The South Korean police chief landed Tuesday on disputed Sea of Japan islands that are effectively controlled by Seoul but claimed by Tokyo, police sources have said.

It is the first time in 12 years that a top South Korean police official has landed on the islands, which are known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea.

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo on Tuesday evening, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said, “If the reported landing is true, it is totally unacceptable and extremely regrettable.

“We are determined to staunchly protect Japanese territory, territorial waters and airspace, and we will take resolute action,” he added.

The Japanese government has lodged a protest with the South Korean government, Hayashi noted.

The visit, believed to have been made by helicopter, came despite Tokyo’s calls for the plan — which had been reported by media in advance — to be canceled.

According to South Korean media, Kim Chang-yong, commissioner-general of the South Korean National Police Agency, made the landing to encourage security guards stationed on the islands and inspect facilities there.

The South Korean government has yet to make any official statement on the landing.

The commissioner-general of the police agency is a sub-Cabinet-level post.

In August, a lawmaker in South Korea’s People Power Party, the country’s largest opposition party, landed on the islands. Among senior government officials, then South Korean President Lee Myung-bak set foot on the islands in August 2012, damaging the bilateral relationship.

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