Presidential candidate in South Korea expresses doubt of any military alliance with Japan
Kanako Mita and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The United States would like Japan and South Korea to mend ties and for both nations to be part of the containment of China. However, many political elites in South Korea have reservations about joining an alliance with Japan. This view holds sway in certain political circles concerning historical issues and the ongoing territorial dispute between Japan and South Korea.
The presidential candidate representing the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, Lee Jae-myung, expressed this view openly. Henceforth, even if improved ties emerge between Japan and South Korea, it seems likely that mistrust will remain under the surface.
Lee – and many others in South Korea – site distrust issues concerning Japan. Similarly, others believe that Japan might seek to expand once more in the future. This might be incorrect for the foreseeable future. However, historical grievances run deep in South Korea.
Also, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Japan does utilize nationalism when it suits. Likewise, the administration of Yoshihide Suga in Japan was lukewarm towards South Korea. It remains to be seen if the new administration under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will be more diplomatic.
Lee said, “Is Japan a perfectly friendly state that can be trusted at all times?”
More worryingly, Lee said, the nation of South Korea “needs to be prepared in the event Japan’s dream of continental expansion erupts militarily.”
Hence, Lee opposes a military alliance that comprises Japan, South Korea, and the United States. Similarly, Lee seeks a more diplomatic approach to China. Thus, Lee believes that it is in the interest of South Korea to focus on cordial relations with China and the United States that suits the geopolitical concerns of South Korea.
The Korean Herald reports, “Lee has widely been considered an opponent of the US military presence in South Korea, saying it has hindered the progress of the democratization of South Korea. But Lee, now fully engaged in his presidential campaign, is viewed to have toned down those objections to appeal to conservative and moderate voters.”
Overall, it is incumbent on Japan and South Korea to mend ties and reach a compromise where possible.
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