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Lawmaker proposes bill to make Dokdo an inhabited area

A local lawmaker on Saturday forwarded a bill to transform the Dokdo islets into an inhabited area to silence Japan's sovereignty claims against the South Korean territory.

Rep. Park Sun-young of the conservative Liberty Forward Party said the bill supports enhancing overall living conditions on the rocky islets in the East Sea. It outlines expanding the pier facility to accommodate larger vessels and improving medical and education-related infrastructure that is vital if people are to reside on Dokdo all year round.

She said the bill also calls for expanding the size of the government committee charged with developing the islets so it can be headed by the prime minister instead of the land, transportation and maritime affairs minister as at present.

"The effective way to deal with Japan's continuing territorial provocation is to improve habitability so the islets have a living population," the first-term lawmaker said.

The move comes as Tokyo sparked new public outcry and a diplomatic row by adopting middle school textbooks that describe the islets as its territory.

At present, Seoul maintains a small Coast Guard contingent on the islets. It has built a pier and there are homes for civilians, but they are not occupied all year round because of adverse living conditions.

South Korea, meanwhile, said recently that it will build a new science and research platform near the islets to monitor weather and environmental data and renovate the existing helipad facility. (Yonhap News)

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