Go to contents

Will S. Korea form military alliance with Japan?

Posted January. 06, 2011 08:39,   


South Korea’s military alliance with Japan is considered inevitable if war erupts on the Korean Peninsula. Since seven U.S. military bases in Japan belong to the U.N. Command, the Pentagon must use its bases in Japan in case of a contingency.

The U.S. cannot smoothly conduct operations without agreements on military intelligence security and war supplies with Japan. In his visit to Seoul last month, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen stressed the need for Tokyo’s participation and increased role in joint drills between Washington and Seoul, urging trilateral military cooperation.

Seoul can access more accurate information on Pyongyang if an agreement on the security of military intelligence is signed. A Defense Ministry official in Seoul said, “This will create a system that enables both South Korea and Japan to share information on North Korea’s nuclear program and weapons of mass destruction.”

Seoul has concluded military intelligence agreements with 21 countries including the U.S., Russia and Vietnam, as well as accords on mutual war supplies support with eight countries including the U.S., Thailand and New Zealand.

Yet South Korea is cautious in concluding a military agreement with Japan. Shin Gyeong-soo, international policy director at the Defense Ministry, told reporters Tuesday, “A military alliance with Japan, if concluded, should be based on humanitarian grounds rather than on emergency situations on the Korean Peninsula.”

His cautious stance could stem from the potential for anti-Japanese sentiment in South Korea given Japan’s previous colonization of the peninsula.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan sparked anger in South Korea last month when he said Tokyo could consider dispatching Japanese forces to the Korean Peninsula in an emergency.

The Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun said Tuesday that Seoul and Tokyo will announce in spring a new joint declaration for bilateral and comprehensive military collaboration. South Korea, however, brushed off this notion as “Japan’s hope.”

A government official in Seoul said, “President Lee Myung-bak will visit Japan this year but the date is not fixed yet. The Japanese media report appears to reflect Tokyo’s hope. The defense ministries of the two countries are discussing multilateral cooperation in technology with other countries. No concrete talks on bilateral security cooperation have come yet.”