September 22, 2015 11:02
South Korea can reject any U.S. request for Japanese armed forces to enter the Korean Peninsula, Defense Minister Han Min-koo said Monday.
Han made the remarks at a National Assembly audit after Tokyo controversially reframed its pacifist constitution to allow its armed forces to engage in combat overseas.
"Wartime operational control is executed under the leadership of both the South Korean and U.S. presidents, therefore if our president does not allow it, [deployment of Japanese forces here] is not possible," the minister said.
Under the tripartite alliance with the U.S. and Japan, Japanese forces could be deployed in case of an attack from North Korea. But there is a lot of sensitivity here about Japanese troops ever setting foot on Korean soil again after the 1910-1945 occupation.
Han was in a tight spot because the current conservative government has sought to delay the handover of full troop control to from the U.S. to Seoul, raising fears that the U.S. could overrule South Korean command in wartime and let Japanese forces in.
Seoul and Washington agreed last year to delay the handover until the South is capable of countering the North Korean military threat on its own.
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