South Korea conducts military exercise at disputed islands

A South Korean flag flaps on a boat near islets called Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan on 15 August, 2012
Image caption Both South Korea and Japan claim the islands

South Korean forces have carried out a drill aimed at repelling foreign landings on disputed islands at the heart of a row with Japan.

The drill took place at an outcrop known in South Korea as Dokdo and in Japan as Takeshima.

The long-running row over the islands has affected ties between the two nations.

Both Japan and South Korea say they have long-standing historical ties to, and claims over, the island grouping.

The drill, which included destroyers and combat jets, took place on what South Korea has designated "Dokdo Day".

An unidentified military official told Yonhap news agency that it was a regular drill aimed at repelling "non-military forces that approach Dokdo via a sea or air route".

A defence ministry official said that it was important to show the area "would be defended by South Korea, in whatever circumstances".

Tensions over the disputed islands between South Korea and Japan have worsened recently, reports the BBC's Lucy Williamson in Seoul, with both sides taking their conflict online and posting videos supporting their claims on the YouTube website.

The islets have become a lightning rod for unresolved historical issues between the two neighbours - a symbol, say many Koreans, of Japan's lack of remorse for its colonial past, our correspondent adds.

The territories themselves consist of two main islands and about 30 smaller rocks. A South Korean coastguard detachment has been stationed there since 1954.

There was no immediate response from Japan to the drill, which is not the first to be held in the area.

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