U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed issues of the three-way security cooperation among the two countries and South Korea during a summit in New York on Wednesday (local time).
“President Trump and Prime Minister Abe also noted the importance of trilateral security cooperation between the United States, Japan, and the Republic of Korea,” the White House said in a press release after the meeting. The three-nation security cooperation was not mentioned in the press release on the results of the summit between Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a day earlier.
As the friction between Seoul and Tokyo was escalating, Washington has remained neutral. Therefore, observers speculate that Abe raised an issue with South Korea’s decision not to extend the GSOMIA military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan and explained Tokyo’s position on the issue, rather than Trump mentioning the Seoul-Tokyo rows first. According to recent reports by Japan’s Kyodo news agency, Tokyo has failed to detect North Korea’s short-range missile launches at least in two occasions since May. As concerns are mounting in Japan over the impact of the ending of GSOMIA on Tokyo’s security, the country needs Washington’s support on the issue.
Some experts claim that the U.S. included the issue in the press release in an attempt to put pressure on Seoul to withdraw its decision on ending the GSOMIA. “There is no change in the U.S. position that it is up to South Korea and Japan to resolve their frictions,” said a diplomatic source in Seoul. “It seems that what Japan mentioned first was included in the U.S. press release as one of the topics discussed at the (U.S.-Japan) summit.” Seoul’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said that neither Trump nor Moon brought up the Seoul-Washington-Tokyo security cooperation during Tuesday’s summit.