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2014年6月 3日 (火)

日米韓防衛会談 対「北」で情報協力を強化せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun 6:48 pm, June 02, 2014
Japan, U.S., South Korea must boost intelligence sharing over Pyongyang
日米韓防衛会談 対「北」で情報協力を強化せよ

To deal effectively with North Korea, which has repeatedly carried out nuclear tests and test-fired missiles, Japan, the United States and South Korea should strengthen trilateral cooperation in the military intelligence field.

On Saturday, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera had talks with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan Jin in Singapore. A joint statement was issued at the close of the meeting.

The statement reaffirmed the three countries’ policy of cooperating closely with the international community to deal with security threats from North Korea. Also incorporated in the statement was an agreement to hold talks on creating a new trilateral cooperative framework to share relevant intelligence regarding missile defense arrangements.

Information obtained from a South Korean Aegis-equipped destroyer and through other means immediately after North Korea launches a missile would certainly be highly beneficial for both Japan and the United States. South Korea also would find it advantageous to receive information from Japan and the United States about tracking a North Korean missile when it analyzes Pyongyang’s missile capability.

Intelligence-sharing arrangements concerning North Korea among the three sides should be steadily expanded.

In the talks between the defense chiefs, Onodera explained Pyongyang’s recent commitment to reinvestigate the fate of Japanese citizens who were abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and early 1980s. He was also quoted as telling his U.S. and South Korean counterparts that Japan considered it important to “resolve [North Korea’s] abduction issue as well as the nuclear and missile development programs” in a comprehensive manner.

Washington and Seoul are concerned that ties between Tokyo and Pyongyang may make headway while leaving the nuclear and missile problems unaddressed. It was only natural that to dispel such concerns, Onodera insisted that Japan would cooperate in addressing other problems involving North Korea.

The problem, however, is that the relations between Japan and South Korea have remained sour for a long period.

Wary of military role

A face-to-face meeting between the defense ministers of Japan and South Korea was not held this time. South Korea remains wary of signing the General Security of Military Information Agreement, a treaty aimed at sharing military intelligence between the two countries.

Hagel stressed at the meeting that military and political issues must be considered separately, and he prodded Japan and South Korea to push ahead with boosting bilateral defense cooperation. Kim, however, noted that Tokyo-Seoul defense cooperation was difficult because of bilateral history problems and public antipathy toward Japan in South Korea.

The differences in views are extremely wide regarding such problems as the so-called comfort women issue and perception gaps between the two countries concerning wartime history. The failure to make progress in cooperating on security is bound to seriously affect both sides.

In March this year, Japan, the United States and South Korea had a tripartite summit meeting through the offices of the United States, while a trilateral meeting of officials in charge of defense and diplomatic affairs took place in April. On the strength of the cooperative relationship that was affirmed in the latest defense chiefs’ meeting, ties should improve between Japan and South Korea.

Onodera referred in the meeting to the Japanese government’s current task of reinterpreting the nation’s Constitution in connection with the right to collective self-defense. He explained that the constitutional interpretation, if altered, would never lead to Japanese forces entering any other country’s territory without prior agreement.

In South Korea, there seems to be deep-rooted concern regarding the expansion of Japan’s military role. But there are a number of instances where this concern is derived from a misunderstanding or distortion of the facts. Japan must try to win the understanding of other countries by making detailed explanations to address these concerns at every possible opportunity.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 2, 2014)


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