3 nations must strengthen cooperation to deter North Korea

North Korea, which is enhancing its missile capabilities, poses a common and imminent threat to Japan, the United States and South Korea, and the three countries need to deepen their security cooperation and unite to deal with the threat.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, U.S. President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol held talks in Cambodia.

In a joint statement released after the conclusion of the meeting, the three leaders condemned North Korea’s nuclear and missile development and set a policy of strengthening the “extended deterrence” that defends U.S. allies with its nuclear capabilities.

This is the second trilateral summit meeting this year, after talks were held in Spain in June for the first time in five years. These talks are being held periodically as a result of the launch of the Yoon administration, which has pragmatic security policies, as well as the worsening security environment in East Asia.

This year, North Korea has repeatedly launched missiles that include new types of missiles with irregular trajectories that are difficult to intercept with current defense systems. At the beginning of this month, it launched 20 or more missiles, including short-range ballistic missiles, in a single day. Many believe that it will soon conduct its seventh nuclear test.

U.S. satellite detection and South Korea’s intelligence gathering play an important role in getting information on North Korea’s missile launches. The three countries must strengthen their system for sharing information.

Last month, Japan, the United States and South Korea conducted joint military drills in the Sea of Japan to confirm procedures for tracking and intercepting ballistic missiles. It is important to repeatedly conduct practical drills.

Japan needs to possess counterattack capabilities and to increase the effectiveness of its deterrence.

The deepening of cooperation among the three countries will likely contribute to peace and stability in the international community. It is essential that Japan, the United States and South Korea work together to deal with China, which is strengthening its hegemonic activities, and Russia, which has invaded Ukraine.

Japan and South Korea also held a summit meeting in Cambodia. These were the first bilateral talks between the two countries’ leaders in about three years, and Kishida and Yoon agreed to work toward an early resolution of the issue of former wartime requisitioned workers from the Korean Peninsula.

Japan had previously taken the position that it would not agree to a summit meeting unless a satisfactory solution to the requisitioned workers issue was presented. The South Korean side is said to have strongly pushed for the summit meeting.

It is unacceptable to shelve the issue of the lawsuits over former requisitioned workers, in which Japanese companies were ordered to provide compensation. The claims issue was “settled completely and finally” under the 1965 Japan-South Korea Agreement on the Settlement of Problems Concerning Property and Claims and Economic Cooperation. The Yoon administration should present a concrete solution based on such factors.

To restore trust between the defense authorities of the two countries, remedial measures must also be taken on the issue of a South Korean military vessel directing its fire-control radar at a Maritime Self-Defense Force patrol aircraft in 2018.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 15, 2022)