May 18, 2015, Jun Ji-hye wrote:Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said Sunday that Japan would retaliate against a North Korean base if Pyongyang launched a missile attack on the United States.
According to the Mainichi Shimbun, Monday, Nakatani made the remarks during an appearance in a program on Fuji Television.
The minister added that Tokyo’s attack would be based on the premise that the U.S. was being attacked by the North and serious damage was expected.
Defense observers in South Korea said the comments about a possible attack on the North were very rare and are expected to provoke a strong response from the repressive state.
Nakatani’s remarks came after Washington and Tokyo revised their defense guidelines on April 28.
The revision of the 1997 U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation Pact removed geographic limits on the role of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, and expanded their role globally to help U.S. forces in military emergencies.
Collective self-defense is the right to engage in military activities overseas if one’s allies are under attack. The revision has increased concerns that Tokyo may return to militarism.
Seoul’s Ministry of National Defense did not make any official response to the minister’s remarks.
However, an official noted that a number of preconditions would be necessary before Japan attacks the North.
“South Korea, the U.S. and Japan are supposed to share information on Pyongyang’s possible missile launches under their trilateral arrangement for military intelligence,” he said.
“Japan needs to seek prior approval before launching an attack against Pyongyang as such an attack would have a great impact on the Korean Peninsula.”
He added that Tokyo is not the only country that is concerned about a North Korean missile attack on Washington.
Korea, a Japanese colony from 1910 to 1945, has delivered its message regarding Japan’s collective defensive right that Tokyo must seek prior approval from Seoul if it conducts military activities on the latter’s territory.
The government has claimed that even if such activities are carried out outside Korean territory, prior approval is still necessary if it affects its national interest.
The three countries signed a pact to share sensitive intelligence on the North’s nuclear and missile programs last December amid increasing threats to the region from the North.
It is the first such agreement that opened the door for Seoul and its former colonial ruler to share military secrets.
However, the two countries do not directly share their intelligence, and Washington mediates between them to calm public resistance to the move here that stems from the bitter memory of Japan’s colonial rule.
This is an interesting development. I don't share the same fear as the Korean government that the Japanese might overstep the bounds of their newly given power, but it does seem this is a symbolic development of the relationship between SoKo and Japan, as I'm sure that no one could have imagined that they would ever be sharing military intelligence after all that Japan has done to other parts of the region.
Long live the emperor, I suppose.