South Korea was to stage an annual military exercise around its easternmost islets of Dokdo on Tuesday after Japan protested the planned drill and called off an agreed-upon summit between the two countries. The Republic of Korea Armed Forces will conduct an annual military exercise around the Dokdo islets in the East Sea on Tuesday. In protest against the regular drill, Japan called off agreed-upon talks between President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga during the Group of Seven (G-7) meeting in Britain last week.
Bilateral ties between Seoul and Tokyo have deteriorated in recent years over a series of disputes on history and trade. South Korea regained its sovereignty over the islets after liberation from the 1910-1945 Japanese colonization of the Korean Peninsula. The islets were incorporated into Japan during the colonization. Japan, which claims ownership over the islets, has repeatedly protested the drills.
South Korea launched the Dokdo drills in 1986. Since 2003, the country has typically conducted the training twice a year, usually in June and December, to better fend off possible foreign infiltrations in the area. The drill, named the East Sea Territory Protection Exercise, will involve the Navy, the Air Force and the Coast Guard, and be staged in a way that minimizes in-person contact given the COVID-19 pandemic. The Marine Corps will not join this year’s exercise, as no landing drill will take place.
South Korea classifies the islets as Dokdo-ri, Ulleung-eup, Ulleung County, North Gyeongsang Province, and calls them Dokdo ( solitary island or lonely island). Japan classifies the islands as part of Okinoshima, Oki District, Shimane Prefecture, and calls them Takeshima (bamboo island). The Franco-English name “Liancourt Rocks” derives from Le Liancourt, the name of a French whaling ship that came close to being wrecked on the rocks in 1849.