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Japan, South Korea defense chiefs agree to expand exchanges

Kyodo

Defense Minister Gen Nakatani and South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo agreed Tuesday to expand bilateral defense exchanges and promote talks with the United States on security issues.

Meeting in Seoul, Nakatani and Han affirmed cooperation in dealing with North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons development, as well as anti-terrorism measures.

Nakatani is on a three-day visit to South Korea that started Tuesday. He is the first Japanese defense minister to visit the country in four years and nine months.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Nakatani said he told Han that the new security laws will not alter Japan’s commitment to an exclusively defense-oriented security policy.

Referring to the laws that will expand the Self-Defense Forces’ overseas role, Nakatani assured Han that Japan will not stage military operations in South Korea’s territory without Seoul’s consent.

Han said the laws must be implemented in a way that contributes to peace and stability in Northeast Asia, according to Nakatani.

He said he stressed the importance of Tokyo and Seoul signing a bilateral agreement on securing military information to allow bilateral exchanges of military intelligence to better cope with North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs.

But Han was quoted as saying that the South Korean government must win support from the National Assembly and the public before signing such an accord.

The two countries put off signing the agreement in 2012 due to domestic opposition in South Korea.