South Korea labeled as "absurd" Japan's latest claim to islets effectively controlled by Seoul in a Foreign Ministry statement Wednesday, threatening a stern response.

A day earlier, Tokyo's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida had told lawmakers that his government will maintain its position that the territory it calls Takeshima belongs to Japan.

The South refers to the rocky islets as Dokdo, and keeps a small police detachment there -- insisting that the territory is closest to the Korean Peninsula, and that it was rightfully reclaimed after the country's post-World War II liberation from Japanese rule.

A Seoul Foreign Ministry spokesman responded to Kishida by releasing a statement Wednesday, condemning Japan's continued territorial claim as "deplorable."

Noh Kwang-il made clear that the South Korean government "will not tolerate any attempt by Japan to hurt Seoul's territorial sovereignty of Dokdo."

Having taken office at the start of last year, President Park Geun-hye has so far avoided summit talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The territorial issue has been one of several points of contention between the two sides, as many South Koreans feel the current Japanese government has not demonstrated sufficient regret over past colonial abuses.

Park has insisted, for example, that Abe make efforts to resolve outstanding grievances of elderly women forced into wartime sexual slavery by Japan.

Anadolu Agency