S. Korea conducts live-fire drill in east waters

Updated: 2014-06-20 16:52


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S. Korea conducts live-fire drill in east waters

A South Korean guided missile patrol gunboat fires a harpoon missile during a live-firing exercise at the sea off Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese June 20, 2014, in this picture provided by South Korean Navy and released by Yonhap. [Photo/Agencies]

SEOUL - The South Korean Navy on Friday conducted a live-fire drill in eastern waters, despite Japan's call for cancellation, to strengthen its capability to detect and strike the possibly invading submarines from the Democratic People 's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Army Col. Wi Yong-seop, vice spokesman at the South Korean Defense Ministry, told a routine press briefing that the firing exercise is being carried out as planned, saying any demand or intervention is not under consideration when staging military drills for South Korea's independent defense.

Mobilizing 19 naval ships, two anti-submarine surveillance aircraft and a Lynx anti-submarine helicopter, the one-day naval exercise was being conducted in waters some 50 km off the country' s eastern port of Jukbyeon.

The naval exercise, which began from 9 a.m. local time, will continue through 5 p.m. The drill was made public for the first time as top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un visited its submarine unit earlier this week.

The drill will focus on detecting, chasing and striking submarines possibly invading from the DPRK on the eastern waters. A couple of torpedoes and missiles were test-fired, including a homegrown torpedo Blue Shark, a ship-to-ship missile Sea Star and an air-to-ground missile Harpoon.

The exercise came a day after Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga urged South Korea not to stage the live-fire drill near a group of disputed islets, called Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan.

Japan called on the South Korean embassy in Tokyo to cancel the exercise, which caused harsh criticism from the South Korean Foreign Ministry.

The Dokdo islets, lying halfway between the two countries, have continuously raised diplomatic ire between Seoul and Tokyo. South Korea claimed the Dokdo was the first victim to the imperialistic Japan's pollaging on the Korean Peninsula.

South Korea has controlled the rocky outcroppings since 1954 when it stationed border guards there.

South Korea reportedly viewed Japan's call for cancellation of the drill as another form of territorial claims to the Dokdo islets ahead of Japan's release of the results of its Kono Statement review.

The Kono Statement refers to an official apology made in 1993 by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, who acknowledged that Japan's imperialistic government was involved in recruiting more than 200,000 young women and forcing them to serve in military brothels.

South Korea has demanded the Japanese government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe make an official apology and compensation for victims of the so-called "comfort women," a euphemism for young women coerced into sex slavery for the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.

Japan reportedly planned to unveil its review on the Kono statement, which will worsen the already strained ties between Seoul and Tokyo.

Abe said on March 14 that he and his cabinet will inherit the Kono and Murayama statements, which resulted in South Korean President Park Geun-hye sitting down face-to-face with Abe under the arbitration of US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit held in late March in the Netherlands.

The Murayama Statement refers to Japan's apology issued in 1995 by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama to its Asian neighbors that suffered from Japan's colonial rule and brutal wartime aggression.

Abe infuriated Japan's Asian neighbors by paying respect to the notorious Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 14 convicted class-A war criminals during the World War II, in December last year. Relations between Seoul and Tokyo turned sour after Abe returned to power in December 2012.