South Korea's Yoo Ki-june, the newly-nominated minister of oceans and fisheries, said in his inaugural speech that he is actively considering expanding public access to Dokdo as a part of exercising the country's sovereignty rights.
He said that he is planning to build public access facilities such as a new, modernized pier on the islets to accommodate more tourists. Previous efforts have been suspended temporarily due to some issues, including environmental concerns.
Aiming to enhance the country's control of the islets, Minister Yoo declared that the Korean government will sternly deal with any attempt to undermine the country's sovereignty.
South Korea regained sovereignty over its own territory, including Dokdo, after the liberation from Japanese colonial rule in 1945. And the Korean government has permanently stationed coast guard forces on the islets since 1954. Japan, however, has continued disputing ownership of the islands, calling them Takeshima in Japanese.
“Dokdo, in terms of history, geography, and international laws, is clearly a part of South Korean territory,” Yoo added in a meeting with reporters in the inauguration ceremony.
Yoo also spoke about the rising number of Chinese boats fishing illegally in South Korean waters, saying that the government will sternly punish any illegal activities in South Korea's territorial waters. However, he mentioned possible ways to reduce illegal fishing through diplomatic dialogue with China.
He also made clear his devotion to the development of the country's fishery industry by boosting its exports. “I will work with all those in the fishing industry to cast the Korea-China free trade agreement as an opportunity to open up China's vast market. It will be a great chance to increase our exports,” he said.