South Korea reaffirmed its stance Tuesday that Japan should seek explicit consent from Seoul if Tokyo exercises the right to "collective self-defense" in cases of emergency situations related to security on the Korean Peninsula.
The Japanese cabinet on Tuesday approved a proposal to reinterpret its war-renouncing Constitution that has banned Japan from exercising what is called the right to collective self-defense, a major shift in Japan's postwar security policy. The right would allow Tokyo to fight alongside its allies and beyond its borders.
Japan's push to exercise the right had support from the U.S.
but has been unnerving South Korea and some other Asian countries as the move is seen as part of Japan's attempts for re-militarization. South Korea was a Japanese colony from 1910-45.
Seoul's foreign ministry said that Japan should seek consent from Seoul when Japan exercises the right in cases affecting Korea's security and interests.
"When it comes to Japan's security discussion, the Japanese government should dispel doubts and concerns stemming from history, abandon historical revisionism and behave properly in a bid to win confidence from its neighboring countries," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Seoul's foreign ministry said in May that security-related discussion in Japan should be made in a way that upholds the spirit of its pacifist Constitution and keeps transparency while contributing to peace and stability in Northeast Asia.
"The right to collective self-defense is not something that can be exercised indiscriminately in another country," Noh Kwang-il, spokesman at the foreign ministry, said in a press briefing, when asked whether Japan could enter the peninsula with U.S. soldiers in the occasion of war
Critics say that Japan's move is a step toward eventually amending the U.S.-drafted pacifist Constitution, thereby leaving the door open to Japan's joining of collective security activities.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been supportive of Japan playing a more proactive role in keeping security in the region, citing China's growing military build-up and North Korea's nuclear threats.
The foreign ministry here also censured Abe for picking North Korea as a potential target of Japan's exercise of its collective self-defense, asserting that Japan may use the right on the Korean Peninsula only upon a request from South Korea.
Japan's move may affect relations between Seoul and Tokyo, which have been already frayed due to Japan's attempts to deny its wartime atrocities.
Japan has taken what Seoul called regressive behaviors as it has made attempts to deny its wartime atrocities since Abe took office in late 2012.
South Korea recently voiced deep regret over Japan's recent review of its 1993 key statement that recognized and apologized for the Japanese military's coercion of women into sexual servitude during World War II. (Yonhap)