South Korea pushes Japan to dispel any concerns about past history


South Korea on Tuesday urged Japan to dispel concerns among neighboring countries about its militaristic past as it moves to reinterpret its Constitution in such a way as to allow for the exercise of collective self-defense.

“Our position is that the discussions should be held on the basis of the pacifist Constitution, dispelling concerns among neighboring countries stemming from the past history and into a direction of contributing peace and stability in the region,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Noh Kwang-il said during a press briefing.

His comments were made after Japan’s ruling parties agreed earlier Tuesday on a major overhaul of the country’s postwar security policy, allowing the exercise of the right to collective self-defense by reinterpreting the pacifist Constitution.

The Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was set to approve the change later Tuesday despite criticism from the public and even within the ruling bloc that the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution will be gutted.

Japan colonized the Korean Peninsula from 1910-1945 and anti-Japanese sentiment remains strong in South Korea. Seoul accuses Tokyo of embracing historical revisionism and failing to break away from the country’s militarist past.

“Our government’s position has been the same: any issue affecting security on the Korean Peninsula and our national interests in exercising the right for self-defense should never be allowed without our request or consent,” Noh said.

He said an official response by South Korea will be made after Japan’s expected announcement on the issue later in the day.

According to a draft prepared by the Japanese government for Cabinet approval, Japan will be allowed to exercise the right to collective self-defense if “the country’s existence is threatened and there are clear dangers that the people’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness would be overturned” due to an attack on Japan or “countries with close ties.”

Collective self-defense is a sensitive issue in Japan, as Tokyo has long maintained that it possesses the right but cannot exercise it due to the limits of Article 9, which has banned the use of force to settle international disputes since the end of World War II.

  • ehtangen

    Within the next week to a month I believe Japan will declare itself a nuclear power, either based on a pretext incident with China, or without. The hurried approval of the “reinterpretation” of Japan’s pacifist constitution, could not stand any type of legal challenge and not would it be likely to stand when Abe is shown the door, after his economic policies fail to deliver.

    Why engage in such a transparent manoeuvre, unless he has an endgame. Is he betting that no Japanese politician would dare abandon the nuclear option once the genie is out of the bottle. If this is correct, it could be like the shot which sparked the first World War.

    For Japan, what we know is that Abe is a man in a hurry to capture his place in history. He wishes to be the one who restored Japan to its former glory. As a nuclear power Japan would temporarily enjoy new found status and be able to shed its shores of its US military garrison and talk on level terms with China.

    For Asia, the unfortunate consequences of this ill conceived fit of hubris will be immediate trade wars and a nuclear arms race.

    For the US, having nuclear capabilities will obviate the need for US troops in Japan and they will be asked to leave. The US caught flat-footed will fume and talk sanctions, while Abe basks in the adoration of Japan’s right wing nationalists and those too young to remember the mistakes of the past.

    For the world it will usher in a new era of increased instability, one in which there will be too many with fingers on nuclear triggers.