[EDITORIALS]National security in perilShotaro Yachi, vice foreign minister of Japan, said, “Japan shares information on North Korea’s nuclear program with the United States, but Japan hesitates to share information and cooperate with South Korea since Washington seems not have full confidence in Seoul.” It is said that Mr. Yachi embarrassed visiting Korean lawmakers with the Assembly’s National Defense Committee by explaining to them in detail the signs of unusual currents of the alliances of South Korea and Japan with the United States.
In fact, knowledgeable people felt it precarious when President Roh Moo-hyun said, “What is so wrong in saying something anti-American?” Since then, the government has denied the conflict between Seoul and Washington over issues such as the role of South Korea as a balancer in Northeast Asia and the strategic flexibility of U.S. forces in Korea. Upon return from his visit to the United States in April, Lee Jong-sok, vice head of the National Security Council, said, “Communication between our two countries over the North Korean nuclear problem and the Korea-U.S. alliance is very smooth.”
However, the remarks by Japan’s vice foreign minister revealed that the explanations by our government’s officials have distorted the truth to a great extent. Diplomats are cautious of their words because they can be ruined by them. Moreover, it is very rare that a diplomat evaluates the diplomatic reality that a neighboring country confronts. Nevertheless, Mr. Yachi used an expression, “Washington does not seem to have full confidence in Seoul.” This tells us how low Korea-U.S. relations have sunk. Not having full confidence could mean that we could possibly pass the information we get to North Korea or other countries.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman expressed regret over Mr. Yachi’s remarks by saying, “They can create unnecessary misunderstanding on Korea-U.S. relations and our North Korea policy.” But the time to worry over “unnecessary misunderstanding” seems to be over. What matters is not “misunderstanding” but the “reality.” Isn’t South Korea gradually isolating itself in Northeast Asia while it shouts anti-U.S. and inter-Korean cooperation slogans, sacrificing our traditional ally?
South Korea relies heavily on the United States and Japan for information on North Korea. We have made a big hole in our national security. We really worry whether we should entrust our national security to a government like this.