Seoul takes worry about Japanese to Washington

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Seoul takes worry about Japanese to Washington

WASHINGTON, D.C. - South Korea has told Washington to listen to its views on Japan’s right to so-called collective self-defense after the United States recently green-lighted a more assertive Japanese military.

At a meeting with South Korean correspondents in Washington, a high-ranking government official told reporters on Oct. 25 that “we demanded U.S. officials reflect our position on matters regarding Korea’s national sovereignty” when Washington and Japan discuss “collective self-defense,” which would allow Japan’s military to come to the aid of an ally during a military crisis.

“We know that collective self-defense is a right guaranteed by the UN Charter for ordinary nations,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

“But if Japan’s exercise of this right could influence current affairs on the Korean Peninsula or matters regarding the national sovereignty of Korea, Japan should seek agreement from Korea as well. We stressed this point to U.S. officials.”

In particular, the official said, “We demanded the U.S. government make sure to reflect Korea’s position when they revise the Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation. In response to our demands, the U.S. government told us that they were ‘understood.’?”

Early this month, foreign ministers and defense ministers of the United States and Japan had meetings in Tokyo and reached a decision to revise guidelines to allow Japan the right to collective self-defense.

“Japan’s right to collective self-defense should be exercised with a low-key stance, considering other nations’ positions as well,” the official stressed.

Speaking about recent diplomatic friction between Korea and Japan over a territorial dispute and historical issues, the official said, “We talked a lot about these issues with U.S. officials and they expressed concerns that the Korea-Japan friction could have a [negative] influence on Korea-U.S.-Japan cooperation.”

In response to Korea’s diplomatic demands, a source in Washington told the JoongAng Ilbo, “The U.S. government’s allowing of Japan the right of collective self-defense is aimed at reining in the growing influence of the Chinese military along with North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons.

“So there will be a limit as to how much the United States can consider Korea’s position in dealing with the matter.”


BY PARK SEUNG-HEE [heejin@joongang.co.kr]



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