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Former defense minister predicts U.S. Forces Korea will not be withdrawn

By former Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto

Interviewed by political reporter Kenta Uemura


The fact that the leader of a dictatorial state that has consistently posed a threat to the Asia-Pacific region stood side by side with the U.S. president and held direct dialogue with him, committing to work for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and building a regime of peace in itself is an epoch-making achievement for the international community as a whole.


However, what was agreed upon was not “North Korea’s denuclearization” but the “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” There is no way that the U.S. can promise not to deploy strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons and nuclear submarines near the Korean Peninsula. This is because the U.S.’s policy is not to confirm or deny the existence of nuclear arms and doing so would run counter to this policy.


On the other hand, the “security guarantees” President Donald Trump promised North Korea lacked specifics.


Trump mentioned the suspension of joint U.S.-ROK military exercises as a gesture to avoid raising tension in the U.S.-DPRK negotiations. This alone will not constitute a “guarantee” for the DPRK regime. This is an issue for the U.S.-ROK alliance. While the background of this proposition is unclear, generally speaking, it is the responsibility of an alliance to ensure military preparedness at all times through joint exercises, in order to maintain deterrence. I cannot understand why Trump mentioned cost as a reason for suspending the exercises.


Considering the security environment in Northeast Asia, I don’t think it would be possible to withdraw U.S. Forces Korea. This is because the ROK is an ally of the United States and the stationing of the U.S. forces is a symbol of the alliance relationship.


Normalization of diplomatic relations might be a form of “security guarantee” because if there is a U.S. Embassy in North Korea and trade and investment by the U.S. move forward, it will be more difficult to take the military option.


There is no need to be pessimistic about the future. While we hope for results from the U.S.-DPRK negotiations, as long as the number of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles is not reduced and the threat remains unchanged, Japan should persist in what it needs to do to build defense capability. National security must not be managed based on the prevailing mood or atmosphere.

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