National / Politics

Amid chilly ties, Japan and South Korea defense chiefs may hold meeting at Singapore summit

Kyodo

Japan has begun making arrangements to hold a meeting with South Korea’s defense minister on the sidelines of an annual security forum that is slated to begin in Singapore later this month, a senior Japanese official said Thursday.

If realized, it will be Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya’s first meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Jeong Kyeong-doo, this year.

Bilateral tensions have been running high since a South Korean destroyer allegedly locked its fire-control radar on a Japanese patrol plane last December, in addition to friction over long-standing wartime issues.

During the envisaged meeting with Jeong, Iwaya hopes to mainly discuss North Korea and has no plans to focus on the radar incident, according to the Defense Ministry official.

“The meeting will be meaningless unless it is a positive and constructive one,” a Japanese government source said.

In January, Japan concluded that South Korea’s denial of the alleged radar lock-on is “baseless” and has not held further talks about the incident since then.

During the three-day Asia Security Summit starting May 31, Japan is also considering holding a trilateral meeting that would also include acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, the official said.

Also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, the forum has taken place every year in Singapore since 2002, where ministers of Asia-Pacific countries and other major nations such as the U.K., France and Germany debate security challenges in the region and their defense cooperation.

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