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Seoul, Beijing condemn Japan’s collective defense

July 03,2014
The Japanese government’s decision to permit the right of so-called collective self-defense, a move that completely overhauls Tokyo’s decades-old, self-imposed renouncement of war, has been met with mixed reactions both at home and abroad.

Korea’s ruling and opposition parties, as well as civilian organizations, voiced criticism of the Shinzo Abe cabinet’s approval of a resolution Tuesday that effectively ends Japan’s pacifist security policy. The decision was made through a controversial reinterpretation of Article 9 of the nation’s 1947 post-World War II pacifist constitution that rejects combat and the use of force to settle global disputes.

Lee Wan-koo, ruling Saenuri Party floor leader, said at the National Assembly yesterday that Japan’s reinterpretation of collective self-defense is “shocking” and added that the country is “walking a path very far from the one a normal nation in the 21st century should be heading.”

The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy strongly condemned Japan’s decision, and party Co-chair Kim Han-gill expressed alarm that “Japan, as a country that doesn’t repent for its history of war crimes, has become a nation that can wage war again.” Kim also urged the President Park Geun-hye administration to take a firmer stance on the issue.

The Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday that it will be monitoring the situation carefully to ensure that Japan exercises collective self-defense with transparency and with respect to Korea’s sovereignty.

Beijing has also expressed strong misgivings. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a briefing Tuesday, “People cannot but question whether Japan is deviating from the path of peaceful development that it has been upholding since the end of World War II.” But Washington is firmly supporting Tokyo’s move to reclaim its right to exercise collective self-defense and has pushed for trilateral defense cooperation between Korea, Japan and the United States.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “welcomed” the move in a statement Tuesday, calling it “an important step for Japan as it seeks to make a greater contribution to regional and global peace and security.”

“President Barack Obama has been very supportive” of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policy to reclaim its right to exercise collective self-defense, said Ben Rhodes, the U.S. president’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, in a briefing the same day.

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]







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