December 13, 2010 08:53
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan raised hackles in Korea on Saturday by saying Tokyo will consider dispatching troops there to rescue Japanese citizens in case of an emergency. Kan told reporters his government will consult on the matter with the South Korean government and revise Japanese laws to allow the country's Self-Defense Force to engage in such rescue operations.
The daily Tokyo Shimbun reported on Sunday that the Japanese government already sounded out to the Korean government the possibility of dispatching SDF transport aircraft and vessels to Seoul, Incheon and Busan to rescue around 28,000 Japanese citizens residing in Korea.
But the daily said the Korean government rejected the proposal citing a potential public outrage among Koreans who may be reminded of the forced occupation of their country by the Japanese imperial military from 1910 to 1945. Seoul was also reportedly concerned that the consultation itself could give the impression that a war is imminent.
But Seoul denied knowledge of the plan. "Japan neither raised the issue nor discussed it with us," a Cheong Wa Dae official said. "We don't know in what context Kan made the comments."
Another Korean official said the dispatch abroad of Japanese troops "is a matter of controversy even within Japan" and the remarks "were almost totally unexpected." He added the comments "appear rather imprudent considering they came from the Japanese leader and concerned sensitive national security issues."
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