“Dangerous cooperation”: Korea and Japan to Sign First Ever Military Treaty
By Gen news. Jan 4, 2011
Posted on : 2011-01-05 15:48
ㆍTwo states’ defense ministers to discuss treaties including military support agreement at summit on January 10
South Korea and Japan are set to sign their first ever military treaty, prompted by the sinking of the battleship Cheonan and North Korea’s shelling of Yeonpyeong Island.
Concerns are being raised, however, that increased military cooperation between Korea and Japan will act as an impediment to the creation of a peaceful atmosphere in the region, by irking China and Russia and returning the situation on the Korean Peninsula to that of the Cold War of the past.
A backlash in South Korean popular sentiment is also expected, due to Japan’s past forced occupation of Korea.
South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) stated on January 4 that Japanese minister of defense Kitazawa Toshimi would visit Korea next week and discuss issues including the signing of treaties on military secret protection and mutual military support with Korean Minister of National Defense Kim Kwan-jin.
A high-ranking member of staff in the MND said, “The Japanese minister of defense will visit Korea for two days next week and discuss ways to develop Korea and Japan’s military relations. The content of the discussions will include treaties on military secret protection and mutual military assistance, which we aim to conclude this year.”
According to the MND, the two defense ministers will hold a summit on January 10 and exchange views on regional security, including the North Korean nuclear problem and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, as well as discussing security-related areas of interest such as bilateral exchange and cooperation on national defense.
On January 11, the plan is that Kitazawa will visit Panmunjeom and Dora Observatory, before inspecting the wreck of the Cheonan at the Second Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi-do.
This visit from the Japanese defense minister comes in the form of a response to that of then-South Korean defense minister Lee Sang-hee to Japan in April 2009. The heightened military tension on the Korean Peninsula following the sinking of the Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, however, have brought plans for reinforced military cooperation between South Korea and Japan onto the agenda.
After the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen stated that South Korea and Japan must move beyond the problems of the past and work to ensure that tripartite military training took place between Korea, the United States and Japan.
Treaties on military secret protection are currently concluded between Korea and the US, and between the US and Japan, but not between Korea and Japan.
An employee of the MND explained, “if this treaty is concluded, both states will have a systematic basis for sharing intelligence on North Korea’s nuclear activity and weapons of mass destruction.”
Another MND employee, however, stated, “we don’t yet know if the treaties to be discussed this time will be concluded this year, or if they’ll be possible next year. At the moment things are at an early stage, where only a consensus has been formed between the two states. They have not decided whether they will sign a treaty or a memorandum of understanding (of lower status).”
The employee cautioned against excessively broad interpretation, saying, “mutual military support will also be limited to areas such as humanitarian aid, disaster relief and UN peacekeeping operations. It is not in consideration of the situation on the Korean Peninsula.” (Gen news. Jan 4, 2011)