The Japanese government has again claimed its sovereignty over South Korea’s easternmost islets of Dokdo in its defense white paper for 2019. Tokyo has also left open the possibility of scrambling fighter jets of its Self-defense Air Force when conflict erupts over the skies of Dokdo.
Tokyo held a Cabinet meeting on Friday and passed its "Japan’s Defense," the 2019 edition of its white paper. The white paper contains claim suggesting that “Takeshima (Japanese name for dokdo) is a sovereign territory of Japan.” Tokyo has contained such claims in the white paper for 15 consecutive years since 2005.
In the chapter on "Surveillance and emergency sorties to counter infiltration into (our) airspace," the white paper suggests that “If we spot any aircraft that could potentially violate our sovereign airspace, we will scramble fighter jets and others, conduct surveillance and issue warnings.” Citing South Korean fighter jets’ firing of warning shots against Chinese and Russian bombers that had infiltrated the (South) Korea Air Defense Identification Zone in July, the white paper said, “Our country (Japan) protested through diplomatic routes against the government of Russia, which had infiltrated the Japanese airspace, and against the government of Korea, which had fired warning shots.” At the time, the Japanese government made emergency sorties to counter Chinese aircraft that emerged over the East China Sea, and the new white paper has also left open the possibility of its fighter jets making emergency sorties for Dokdo in the event of a similar incident.
The South Korean defense ministry and foreign affairs ministry respectively summoned officials from the Japanese embassy in Seoul on the day. “We have proclaimed to Japan that we will take a stern counteraction for any attempt that violates our sovereignty over the South Korean territory of Dokdo,” the South Korean military said. The South Korean foreign ministry also summoned the official for political affairs at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to strongly protest.