S.Korean opposition lawmakers visit disputed Takeshima Islands

South Korea's main opposition party says its lawmakers and others have landed on the Takeshima Islands in the Sea of Japan.

South Korea controls the islands. Japan claims them. The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory. It says South Korea is illegally occupying them.

A regional branch of the Democratic Party says 17 people, including three lawmakers, arrived on the islands on Tuesday. South Korea calls the islands Dokdo.

A video clip posted on YouTube shows lawmakers chanting with a banner saying, "Dokdo is our territory."

The lawmakers reportedly said the islands are an inherent part of South Korea's territory, and that Japan's claim over the islands is absolutely unacceptable.

They also reportedly said they can never give up or compromise on the issue, no matter what sacrifices are involved.

The Democratic Party regional branch says the party's officials will visit the islands again to protect the country's territorial sovereignty.

The South Korean government maintains its claims of sovereignty over the islands, even though Japan-South Korea relations have been improving.

The Democratic Party won a general election earlier this month. Observers say there is concern that President Yoon Suk-yeol's administration may face harsher criticism in parliament over its diplomacy toward Japan.

Japan's foreign ministry lodged a protest with South Korea's embassy in Tokyo over the lawmakers' visit to the Takeshima Islands.

The director-general of the ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, Namazu Hiroyuki, told senior South Korean Embassy diplomat Kim Jang-hyun over the phone that the visit is totally unacceptable and extremely regrettable.

Namazu told Kim that the lawmakers landed on the islands despite Japan's request that they not do so. He added that the islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory both historically and in terms of international law.

Japan's embassy in Seoul has also lodged a similar protest with South Korea's foreign ministry.