Meeting for Tokyo and Seoul envoys

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Meeting for Tokyo and Seoul envoys

The government announced Friday that a foreign affairs ministers meeting between Seoul and Tokyo will take place in New York next Wednesday, the first since Japan passed a package of security bills that authorized overseas military combat missions.

The recent passage of the 11 bills - one concerning international peacekeeping and 10 others related to self-defense measures - set the legal grounds for Japan to defend allies under attack overseas, the first time since the end of World War II.

The Korean Peninsula is a place on which Japan might practice its new right of so-called collective self-defense, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

This troubles Korea considering that Japan colonized the entire peninsula from 1910 to 1945 and the current government has lurched to the right on matters of history.

Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) did not directly mention the security bills in a press release Friday saying that Korean Foreign Affairs Minister Yun Byung-se will meet Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to talk about “Korea-Japan relations, regional cooperation and other mutual concerns.”

The meeting will be the seventh time Yun has met with Kishida, with the last taking place on Aug. 6 in Kuala Lumpur on the sidelines of an ASEAN Regional Forum.

A foreign affairs ministers meeting among Washington, Seoul and Tokyo is scheduled a day before, on Tuesday.

Although Korea’s MOFA did not express regret over the bills, it adamantly said last week it “will not tolerate” Japanese forces landing on its territory without prior consent, and that the practice of collective self-defense should be based on the “absolute respect” of the third country’s sovereignty.

One of those bills, which translates as the Military Attack Act, has been subject to particular criticism here as it fails to stipulate that prior consent. Tokyo has yet to clarify the law’s wording. Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani vowed earlier this year that Japan’s armed forces would not be dispatched to South Korea without permission from Seoul.

The bipartisan leadership of Washington’s Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committee welcomed the passage last week, saying Japan will “contribute to international peace and security.”

With local media reports also indicating Nakatani might visit South Korea next Friday for the Myungyeong Korea 2015 6th CISM World Games, it remains to be seen whether he will have a meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Han Min-koo.

The sports convention, which will be held in eight cities and counties in North Gyeongsang this year, is expected to attract representatives from some 120 countries.

A Bloomberg article released Friday said South Korean President Park Geun-hye wrote in an email interview that the Japanese government “would do well” to take into account the sense of “unease” inside and outside Japan.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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