SEOUL – South Korea’s top security official told his Japanese counterpart Tuesday that Japan’s ongoing revision of defense cooperation guidelines with the United States “should reflect neighboring countries’ concerns and be carried out in a transparent way,” the South Korean presidential office said.
Kim Kwan-jin, chief of the National Security Office at the presidential office, “conveyed our position once again on Japan’s moves to exercise the right for collective self-defense,” according to a statement after he held with Shotaro Yachi, national security adviser to the Cabinet.
Yachi explained Japan’s policies on defense and national security.
South Korea is generally cautious about any increase in the activities of the Self-Defense Forces.
Japan and the United States released a midterm report earlier this month on the first review since 1997 to the guidelines that detail the roles of the U.S. military and the SDF in various possible contingencies.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government in July changed the interpretation of the war-renouncing Constitution in a bid to enable the SDF to play a greater security role abroad.
Kim and Yachi also discussed North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and agreed to cooperate closely in responding to military threats from the North, the statement said.
Yachi explained the process of recent negotiations between Tokyo and Pyongyang, and reaffirmed that Japan will keep South Korea and the United States informed on how they progress.
Kim said it is important for Japanese political leaders “to make sincere efforts to heal wounds of the past.”
“Most of all, the settlement of the issue of former ‘comfort women’ is the most important issue,” he said, referring to Korean women forced into wartime brothels for the Japanese military.