The Pentagon dismissed a press report Thursday directly linking Japan's envisioned exercise of its right to collective self-defense with possible emergencies on the Korean Peninsula.
In a front-page story, the Chosun Ilbo, a major South Korean daily, quoted a Pentagon official as saying the U.S. includes the peninsula in the scope of Japan's right to collective self-defense.
The article "mischaracterized U.S. policy with respect to Northeast Asia," Lt. Col. Jeff Pool, a Pentagon spokesman, told Yonhap News Agency.
The quoted official, who spoke to a group of visiting Korean reporters on background, just reiterated the language in the 2013 joint communique following the two-plus-two meeting between the U.S. and Japan last month, in which the two sides "affirmed the importance of coordinating closely with the ROK (South Korea) to advance shared security interests," he added.
Koreans are concerned about Tokyo's campaign to reinterpret its Constitution to remove restrictions on the right to collective self-defense.
If exercised, the right would enable Japan to use force to counter any attack on its allies or other nations with whom it has a "very close relationship."
Koreans have a bitter memory of Japan's brutal colonization of Korea from 1910 to 45.
They are especially worried about the possibility that Japanese troops will enter Korea without Seoul's consent in the event of a war against North Korea.
Speaking to Yonhap, however, a Pentagon official said it would be almost impossible for Japan to send any troops to Korea without consultations with Seoul.
The official noted Japan's possible dispatch of its Self-Defense Forces to the Philippines, recently battered by a major typhoon.
Japan's defense ministry announced that it is in "consultation"
with the Philippine government about the issue, the official pointed out, adding this case could be an example of how Japan would exercise the right to collective self-defense. (Yonhap News)