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South Korea hints at tacit OK of Japan collective defense quest

Kyodo

South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kyou Hyun on Friday indicated a stance of tacit approval of Japan’s exercising its right of collective self-defense, according to Yonhap News Agency.

“There is no way for us to effectively confine Japan’s promotion of its right of collective self-defense,” he was quoted as saying at a parliamentary committee on resolving the distortion of history in Northeast Asia.

In South Korea, apprehension toward an expansion in the scope of Japan’s military action is firmly rooted in public opinion, given Japan’s colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

Concerns have also surfaced over moves to revise the U.S.-Japan military guidelines that may result in Japanese forces being dispatched to South Korea in case of an armed conflict on the peninsula.

Since both the ruling and opposition parties are opposed to Japan exercising its right of collective self-defense, it is difficult for the government to openly show its approval.

However, since the United States, on which it is dependent militarily, supports Japan’s rearmament, it continues to take an ambiguous stance on the issue.

Kim said that issue is not one of whether Japan authorizes the use of the right of collective self-defense, but rather whether it actually exercises the right.

In addition, he was quoted as saying, “In issues that affect the security of the Korea Peninsula and our national interest, (Japan’s right to collective self-defense) cannot be exercised without making a request.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed willingness to revise the Constitution, which limits overseas activities of the Self-Defense Forces, and upgrade the SDF to a military that can act more freely outside Japan alongside its allies, including as the United States.