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Seoul Wary of Possible Japanese Action on Korean Peninsula
Seoul is voicing qualms about the potential for Japan to intervene on the Korean Peninsula in the event of an emergency in North Korea.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday gave his backing to the recommendation of an advisory panel that Tokyo revise its pacifist constitution to permit military actions in defense of allies outside Japanese territory. Such actions could include the firing of interceptors to destroy a potential North Korean missile launched against the United States.
The South Korean foreign ministry responded by urging Tokyo to seek South Korea's clear permission before any potential intervention on the peninsula in contingency operations related to the North, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
"As for Japan's future security policy, we reiterated that there should be a request from us or our consent when it comes to issues related to security on the Korean Peninsula and national interests," ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said in provided remarks.
Seoul remains sensitives about issues surrounding Japan's colonial-era occupation of the Korean Peninsula and human rights violations committed during World War II. Because of this, the South Korean government has been hesitant to go along with a U.S. desire for Japan to take on a bigger military role in the region in order to counterbalance nuclear threats from North Korea and China's armed forces build-up.
"There is a misunderstanding that Japan will once again become a country that wages war, but I absolutely reject this," Abe said in televised remarks, in which he called for the development of a more capable military, the New York Times reported. "I will protect the principle of pacifism in the constitution. By increasing our deterrence, our country will be able to avoid becoming caught up in war."
The recommendations of the government-appointed panel will now go before the Abe administration's governing coalition for consideration.
The Kim Jong Un regime on Friday reacted angrily to the prospect of Japan doing away with some of its self-imposed military restrictions, Yonhap separately reported.
The state-controlled Rodong Sinmun accused Tokyo of plotting an "overseas invasion to achieve its long-sought ambition to rule the world."
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