Japan has made clear its intention to not exercise its right to so-called collective self-defense on the Korea Peninsula without consent from Seoul, the foreign ministry here said Thursday.
"A ranking security official from the Japanese government has informed us of (Japan's) position that Japanese military forces cannot be deployed to the Korean Peninsula by invoking the collective self-defense rule," South Korea's foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said in a briefing.
Japan's position is in accordance with international law in that military forces cannot be deployed to a foreign country without the consent of the host country, Cho said, quoting the Japanese official believed to be from the defense ministry.
The spokesman's remarks were made in response to growing concerns in South Korea over Japan's ongoing moves to secure greater constitutional right to collective self-defense, which can allow its military to engage in war beyond its borders and pursue overseas military operations.
Under the current pacifist constitution written after Japan's defeat in World War II, the role of the country's forces were strictly limited to homeland defense.
Japan's recent plans for a military build-up are fueling jitters among neighboring countries like South Korea and China where memories of Tokyo's past imperialist aggression still run deep.
Japan's relations with South Korea and China have been unusually icy due to the Shinzo Abe administration's renewed territorial claims and unrepentant remarks over its imperialistic history.
"Our government's clear and consistent position in regard to Japan's exercise of the collective self-defense right is that (it) cannot be tolerated when exercised without a request from our side in matters that affect our national interests and security on the Korea Peninsula," Cho said, reiterating the Seoul government's widely publicized policy position.
South Korea will seek close consultation with the United States and Japan to express its position that Japan's military build-up should be carried out in a transparent manner and in a way that allays worries of neighboring countries, the spokesman said.