South Korea to Build Naval Base Near Disputed Islands

Posted September 28th, 2011 at 6:54 pm (UTC-5)
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South Korea says it will start building a naval base on eastern Ulleung-do island next year, to better guard nearby islets that also are claimed by Japan.

Ruling party lawmaker Chung Mee-kyung said Wednesday the naval base will be able to accommodate Aegis destroyers and amphibious landing ships. Construction of the $300 million project is slated for completion in 2015.

Ulleung-do is located about 90 kilometers from the disputed islets known as Dokdo in Korea and as Takeshima in Japan.

Chung said the base will enable South Korean naval ships to reach the islands in one and a-half hours as compared to four hours now. Japanese ships need about three hours to reach the islands.

The rocky uninhabited islets are currently administered by South Korea, which has its coast guard stationed there.

Last month, three Japanese lawmakers wanted to visit Ulleung-do island, but were stopped when they arrived in Seoul, and then were returned home.

The brief, but highly publicized, visit by the members of Japan's conservative opposition Liberal Democratic Party met with angry protests in Seoul.