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South Korean Fighter Aircraft Patrols over Islands Disputed by Japan

A South Korean fighter jet carried out a patrol flight Tuesday over islands at the core of a bitter conflict with Japan, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said at an event signifying the founding of the South Korean military.

South Korea showcased newly obtained F-35 stealth fighter jets to celebrate Armed Forces Day as Moon tried to allay worries that his policy of engagement with North Korea would undermine the South’s commitment to defense.

He stated a South Korean F-15K jet watched over the disputed islets known as Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan, which are governed by Seoul and claimed by both nations, a step that might kindle already strained ties between the two.

On Friday, South Korean government delegates had protested against Tokyo’s annual defense review, which made a reference to Japan proudly owning the islands. South Korea’s foreign ministry ordered a military official at the Japanese embassy in Seoul to demand an instantaneous reversal.

South Korea and Japan have been engaged in a worsening diplomatic and trade conflict rooted in wartime history and disputes over compensation for forced laborers during Japan’s 1910-1945 invasion of Korea.

After Japan contracted its curbs on exports of high-tech supplies crucial to South Korea’s chip and display markets in July, both nations have eliminated each other from fast-track trade status.

In July, a Russian military plane twice violated airspace over the disputed islands and drew heaps of warning shots from South Korean planes, South Korean delegates said, during what Russia said was a long-range joint air patrol with China.

Japan, which stated it further scrambled fighter plane at the time, filed a complaint with both South Korea and Russia over the episode.