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The trilateral security framework at risk

Posted August. 05, 2019 07:34,   

Updated August. 05, 2019 07:34


The diplomatic conflicts between South Korea and Japan, caused by Tokyo’s decision to exclude Seoul from the “white list,” has shaken the foundation of the trilateral security framework among South Korea, Japan and the United States, which has continued since the Korean War was ended in 1953.

Considering its alliances with Seoul and Tokyo a “linchpin” and a “cornerstone,” respectively, Washington has deployed a Northeast Asia strategy to keep the expansion of Beijing and Moscow in check. However, the basic framework has gone through turbulence due to Japan’s economic retaliation against South Korea.

South Korea Foreign Affairs Minister Kang Kyung-wha said at a meeting with U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo and Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Taro Kono in Bangkok on Friday that the issue regarding GSOMIA holds great significance in trilateral security cooperation among the three nations. Kang stated that the South Korean government has no option but to put everything on the table to consider any choice. Reportedly, Secretary Mike Pompeo did not show any particular response, which implies that things were somewhat serious then, according to a South Korean government official.

Meanwhile, the Korean military considers executing a defense drill this month around the Dokdo islets, which it has suspended for some years concerned of any ramification on the relationship with Japan. It aims not only to exhibit its determination to safeguard Korean territory but also to make it clear to take a strong stance amid the tensions with Japan.

The South Korean government’s recent mentioning of security issues is a message to Washington and Tokyo to ask if Japan, is a friend of Korea’s and is also determined to maintain the trilateral security cooperation framework. South Korea's Deputy National Security Adviser Kim Hyun-chong also delivered the same message Friday by explicitly saying that Japan has not done good but harm to the process of making peace. The South Korean government intends to make it clear to the White House that Japan did not provide any help to the efforts of Korea and the United States to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue.

Sang-Jun Han alwaysj@donga.com · Gi-Jae Han record@donga.com