U.S. President Donald Trump offered his help to ease tensions between South Korea and Japan for the first time if both countries make a request to him. He has not taken a side of either countries. The ruling party of South Korea argues that the government needs another card to persuade Trump before it is too late.
Trump told reporters on Friday (local time) at the White House that conflicts between South Korea and Japan are persisting, adding that South Korean President Moon Jae-in had asked him to get involved when he visited Seoul last month. On the day, President Trump said he would get involved if both countries ask him to do so even though he wanted them to solve things on their own. “I like both leaders,” Trump said. “I like President Moon. And you know how I feel about Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe. He’s a very special guy.”
“President Moon asked for Trump’s attention on the matter during their bilateral meeting in Seoul last month,” Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Ko Min-jung said. Ko corrected her wording, by saying that what Moon asked for was his attention on the matter rather than involvement as Trump’s Friday remark that he could get involved if Prime Minister Abe agreed to it as well. Trump did not mention the General Security of Military Information Agreement, which Cheong Wa Dae continuously asked to review and discard.
Some in the ruling party voice their concerns and say that they should bring the U.S. to our side. Sending troops to the Strait of Hormuz is a good example. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton is expected to ask Seoul and Tokyo to dispatch troops to the Strait of Hormuz at his meeting with Chung Eui-yong, chief of the presidential national security office, and Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo on Tuesday after his visit to Japan.
Cheong Wa Dae is approaching the matter with prudence, but some argue that the government should act proactively and dispatch troops if Seoul has to do it anyway. “The White House is taking steps to make a request to dispatch troops and even held a briefing session on the coalition in the Strait of Hormuz,” said a diplomacy expert. “If the government participates at the very last stage of forming the coalition, it wouldn’t be that useful as a negotiation card.”
Japan is hesitating to make a decision as the legal basis of sending its self-defense force is unclear. Japan is in no situation to dispatch a self-defense force right away considering the current constitution and laws, according to senior ruling Liberal Democratic Party member Koichi Hagiuda on Monday.
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