South Korea's navy Tuesday launched its largest ship, a 14,000-ton multipurpose vessel, at a ceremony attended by President Roh Moo-hyun. The navy said the name had been chosen to inspire the South Korean people.
Dokdo is the Korean name for a group of uninhabited islets in the Sea of Japan between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, known as Takeshima in Japanese. The islets are surrounded by rich fishing waters controlled by South Korea, and have been a source of animosity between the two countries.
"It is truly regrettable that the name was used on the vessel despite repeated requests by the Japanese government not to do so," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda told reporters Wednesday. He said he expected the Foreign Ministry to repeat its strong protest.
The ship, which can carry up to 700 troops, six tanks, 10 CH-60 helicopters and seven amphibious vehicles, will be deployed in 2007 after a trial operation.
The rift over the islands flared anew in March when a Japanese provincial legislature passed a law designating Feb. 22 "Takeshima Day" to reinforce Tokyo's claim to the islands.
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