South Korea, the United States and Japan plan to hold talks in Hawaii this week to boost military coordination in dealing with North Korea's nuclear and missile capabilities, a JCS officer here said Monday.
The meeting among Adm. Choi Yun-hee, Gen. Martin Dempsey, and Gen. Shigeru Iwasaki will be held on the island on Wednesday on the sidelines of the biannual Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) training, according to the officer.
"Joint preparedness against North Korea's nuclear and missile programs is required at least in the military field at a time when there are difficulties in the relations between South Korea and Japan," a JCS officer in Seoul said, asking not to be named.
After the meeting, the three commanders will issue a joint statement, the officer said, noting that the U.S. has invited the two Asian countries to the talks.
It will be the first time that the three chiefs meet together face-to-face, although they have had several video conferences so far, with the last taking place last year.
Asked about the possibility of making the trilateral talks a regular event, the officer said it depends on "how Japan changes its stance on historical issues, though South Korea does not feel that much necessity for it."
The already strained relations between Seoul and Tokyo have further worsened, as Japan tries to backpedal on its official apology over sexual slavery during World War II, the latest in a series of attempts to whitewash its wartime atrocities.
A trilateral deal to share military intelligence will not be on the table, as the issue is not a decision of the military, he noted.
During a trilateral meeting in Singapore in May, the defense chiefs reached a consensus on the necessity of sharing military intelligence to better deal with threats from North Korea.
Such a deal has not been made amid the soured Seoul-Tokyo ties.
The bilateral military intelligence pact was reached between Seoul and Washington, and between Tokyo and Washington, but not between Seoul and Tokyo.
The biennial RIMPAC training kicked off on June 26 to run until Aug. 1, on and around the Hawaiian Islands, bringing together 23 countries including South Korea, China and Brunei to take part in the international maritime exercise for the first time, according to the U.S. Pacific Fleet.