South Korea reminded Japan on Saturday of the need for “peace spirit” and transparency in implementing its new defense policy supported by the passage of controversial security bills by its parliament.
“In deciding and implementing defense and security policy down the road, Japan will have do so with transparency and in the direction of contributing to regional peace and stability, while maintaining the spirit of the pacifist constitution,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
It was responding to the upper house‘s approval of the package of 11 security bills in Tokyo hours earlier.
The move made the legislation into law that reinterprets Japan’s constitution to allow its Self-Defense Forces to fight alongside the United States or other partner countries when they come under attack.
Representing a significant change in Japan‘s post-war security policy, it is the centerpiece of the new Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation adopted in April.
The initiative has been a focus of attention in South Korea amid concern about the possibility of Japan sending forces to the Korean Peninsula in the name of aiding the U.S. in the event of contingencies, such as a conflict with North Korea.
South Korea views the move warily as it calls to mind Japan’s past militarism amid concerns that the power could be misused.
Japanese boots on the peninsula are one of the last things South Koreans want to see due to painful memories of Japan‘s colonial rule of Korea from 1910 to 1945.
Concerns about Japan seeking greater military power have deepened as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has taken a dubious stance on history and national security issues.
South Korea has said Japan must win explicit consent from Seoul if it wants to be involved in coping with contingencies on the peninsula. In the revised defense cooperation guidelines, the U.S. and Japan said they will act “in accordance with international law, including full respect for sovereignty.”
In the statement, the ministry reiterated that Japan’s use of the right to collective self-defense over issues related to the“security of the Korean Peninsula and the national interests” of South Korea will require Seoul‘s request or consent. (Yonhap)