Historical issues hinder security cooperation

South Korea will hold trilateral anti-submarine drills with the United States and Japan in international waters off the East Sea today to cope more effectively with growing military threats from North Korea, the Ministry of National Defense said Thursday. The maritime exercise is the first of its kind since April 2017.

The drills come right after Seoul and Washington conducted a combined naval exercise in the East Sea from Sept. 26 to 29 in response to North Korea's nuclear and missile threats. Early this month, the North promulgated a law that enables Pyongyang to make a preemptive nuclear strike in a contingency. Its leader Kim Jong-un has vowed not to give up his nuclear arsenal under any circumstances.

The defense ministry said that the three-nation drill will focus on detecting, identifying and tracking submarines. The exercise is expected to help keep the capabilities of North Korea's submarines and its submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) in check. The North has been making efforts to develop and deploy SLBMs which could be installed with nuclear warheads, while pushing to develop new submarines. Pyongyang is reportedly preparing to test-fire an SLBM soon as well as conduct its seventh nuclear test anytime.

Against this backdrop, it is timely for the three countries to stage the joint drills. South Korea's Munmu the Great destroyer will join the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and members of its strike group, as well as Japan's Asahi-class destroyer. South Korea needs Japan's cooperation as the Asian neighbor has the largest number of P-3C maritime patrol aircraft after the U.S. that can detect and trace submarines.

The drills also carry significance as there is a growing need for trilateral security cooperation among Seoul, Washington and Tokyo amid the emerging new Cold War, which renders North Korea, China and Russia to align themselves. The U.S. has been adamant in letting Japan play a greater role to ensure security in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly when America is engaging in the ever-intensifying great power rivalry with China.

In this situation, more active trilateral security collaboration is inevitable whether we like it or not. President Yoon Suk-yeol, who is seeking to mend frayed Seoul-Tokyo ties, said recently that there is no reason to avoid the three-way framework which is designed to deal with North Korea's nuclear threats and settle peace in Northeast Asia. As such, it is necessary for the three countries to hold regular drills to increase their preparedness.

Yet, Seoul and Tokyo should make efforts to improve their relations in order to boost trilateral security cooperation with Washington. The two countries still have to go a long way to break the diplomatic deadlock over the South Korean top court's rulings, which ordered Japanese firms to pay compensation to surviving Korean victims of Japan's wartime forced labor.

Yoon is under severe criticism for holding only "informal talks" with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York last week. Regrettably, the Kishida administration has yet to show any signs of compromise. Anti-Japanese sentiment still runs deep among Koreans. There is no national consensus on stepping up military cooperation with Japan. So we should not hurry to let Japan assume a bigger role in the region until both sides restore mutual trust and amity.


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Trilateral anti-submarine drills

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29.09.2022
Historical issues hinder security cooperation

South Korea will hold trilateral anti-submarine drills with the United States and Japan in international waters off the East Sea today to cope more effectively with growing military threats from North Korea, the Ministry of National Defense said Thursday. The maritime exercise is the first of its kind since April 2017.

The drills come right after Seoul and Washington conducted a combined naval exercise in the East Sea from Sept. 26 to 29 in response to North Korea's nuclear and missile threats. Early this month, the North promulgated a law that enables Pyongyang to make a preemptive nuclear strike in a contingency. Its leader Kim Jong-un has vowed not to give up his nuclear arsenal under any circumstances.

The defense ministry said that the three-nation drill will focus on detecting, identifying and........

© The Korea Times


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