As S. Korea and Japan bicker over defense white paper, US stresses alliance relationships

Posted on : 2021-02-04 16:13 KST Modified on : 2021-02-04 16:13 KST
Trilateral cooperation with S. Korea and Japan is “vital” to regional peace and North Korea issue, US says
The Pentagon, headquarters of the US Department of Defense, near Washington, DC. (AP/Yonhap News)
The Pentagon, headquarters of the US Department of Defense, near Washington, DC. (AP/Yonhap News)

The US Department of Defense emphasized trilateral cooperation with South Korea and Japan on Feb. 2, noting that the two countries are its most important allies in the region.

“Trilateral cooperation among the United States, the Republic of Korea, and Japan is vital to the maintenance of regional peace, prosperity, and stability [which includes] addressing the North Korea nuclear, WMD, and ballistic missile threat and maintaining the rules-based international order,” said John Supple, a public affairs officer at the Defense Department, in response to a press inquiry about a dispute between South Korea and Japan over South Korea’s recently published defense white paper.

Supple said the US believes that South Korea and Japan both share that perspective. “In this vein, we will continue to seek every opportunity to expand our cooperation to meet our shared threats,” he added.

The defense white paper that the South Korean government released on Feb. 2 described Japan as a “neighboring country,” dropping the word “partner” that had appeared in the 2018 edition. The white paper also noted that the two countries’ defense relationship had been strained by factually inaccurate and one-sided media characterizations of Japanese political leaders’ provocations over Dokdo and a Japanese patrol plane’s threatening approach to a South Korean naval vessel in 2018.

In response, Japan’s Ministry of Defense summoned the military attache at South Korea’s embassy to Japan to complain about the white paper’s references to Japan, describing them as “unacceptable” and “very regrettable.”

South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense fired back on Feb. 3, saying its military attache had “made clear we could not accept Japan’s inappropriate complaint and that the information presented in the 2020 defense white paper is objectively true.”

The US government’s emphasis of trilateral cooperation with South Korea and Japan under these circumstances seems to have been an indirect appeal for its two allies to improve their relationship. The Biden administration regards trilateral cooperation as essential for containing China and resolving the North Korean nuclear issue.

The US State Department reported that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had stressed the importance of continuing cooperation between the three countries during a phone call with the South Korean Foreign Minister on Jan. 26.

By Hwang Joon-bum, Washington correspondent, and Kim So-youn, staff writer

Please direct comments or questions to []

button that move to original korean article (클릭시 원문으로 이동하는 버튼)

Related stories

Most viewed articles