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MSDF, ROK navy conducts joint drill off Somalia

  • 2016-01-13 15:00:00
  • , Sankei
  • Translation

(Sankei: January 13, 2016 – p 1)

 

 A Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) ship and a South Korean navy ship conducted joint training in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia at the end of December last year, multiple Japanese government sources informed Sankei on Jan. 12. The sources said that although the drill was conducted for the purpose of military exchange, South Korea asked Japan not to publicize the exercise out of concern for anti-Japanese sentiment at home.

 

 The drill was conducted on December 23, 2015. The MSDF and the South Korean navy assigned one warship each to conduct communication training, as well as to simulate tactical operations.

 

The U.S. Navy originally planned to participate in the drill, but in the end did not because the destroyer assigned to the exercise was dispatched on another mission.

 

 

It is often the case that such drills as military exchanges are publicized following their completion, but both the Japanese and the South Korean governments did not disclose the Gulf of Aden exercise to the public. As anti-SDF sentiment persists in South Korea, its military is wary of bilateral drills or military exchanges with Japan. Because the U.S. Navy cancelled its participation in the scheduled drill this time, Seoul apparently asked Tokyo not to publicize the bilateral training.

 

 

At the end of last year, Japan and South Korea agreed to resolve the issue of the comfort women, and the Seoul Central District Court ruled that Tatsuya Kato, former Seoul bureau chief of the Sankei Shimbun, was not guilty of defaming President Park Guen-hye. Kato had been indicted without arrest for defaming the president in a column he wrote. “The South Korean government probably did not want to further incite anti-Japan sentiment among people who complain about the government’s policy of appeasing Japan,” said the sources.

 

 

The Japanese and the South Korean governments were supposed to conclude a General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in June 2012. Seoul, however, declined to conclude the agreement just before the signing ceremony from concern that the pact would provoke a backlash among the Korean public.

 

 

The security environment in East Asia is becoming unpredictable on account of North Korea’s nuclear test and missile development. In order to maintain regional stability, it is essential that the SDF and the South Korean military enhance their cooperation and information sharing. “It is a fundamental rule not to let political issues and historical perspective intrude in the field of security. As long as South Korea is swayed too much by the public,” says a Japanese Defense Ministry official, building a bilateral relationship of trust will take longer.”

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