Recent comments by Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan to discuss with Seoul dispatching Japan’s Self-Defense Forces on the Korean Peninsula appear “unrealistic,” a high-ranking official here said Sunday.
Kan had reportedly told a recent meeting with families of Japanese abducted by North Korea that he would discuss with the South Korean government the issue of dispatching Japanese military forces to the peninsula to rescue his countrymen in case of emergency.
The remarks by Kan came as tensions are running high between the two Koreas following North Korea’s Nov. 23 artillery attack on a South Korean island.
“Completely unrealistic,” the senior official at Seoul’s presidential office spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity. “I am not fully aware of the circumstances under which the comments were made, but I am sure Prime Minister Kan was not too serious (about what he said).”
“The suggestion is not being well received even in Japan,” the official added. “I am sure Japan has no such plans prepared.”
Kan’s comments are considered somewhat thoughtless under the current situation when regional powers are cautiously escalating diplomatic efforts to defuse tensions on the divided Korean Peninsula.
Seoul, Tokyo and Washington “have been discussing stronger military ties” following North Korea’s deadly artillery shelling last month, but it is “not an issue of negotiation,” the South Korean official said.
Geographically close to the two Koreas, Tokyo has reacted most sensitively toward increased military tensions on the peninsula in the past.
Calling Pyongyang’s recent attack on South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island a direct violation of the armistice that temporarily ended the 1950-53 Korean War, Japan agreed in a trilateral agreement last week to take an active role in increasing deterrence against the communist state.
By Shin Hae-in (firstname.lastname@example.org)