S. Korea can reject potential US request for Japan forces entry: defense minister

September 21, 2015
South Korea's Chief Defense Minister Han Min-koo (Yonhap)

South Korea’s Chief Defense Minister Han Min-koo (Yonhap)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — South Korea is capable of turning down any U.S. request for the entry of Japanese armed forces onto the Korean Peninsula, Defense Minister Han Min-koo said Monday in his latest efforts to defuse concerns over Japan’s rearmament moves.

Japan passed a package of security bills into law in the wee hours of Saturday, unshackling its previously self defense-only armed forces from limitations imposed after World War II and empowering them to fight in overseas battles.

The rearmament step has sparked concerns here that Japanese forces could join U.S. troops stationed in South Korea unilaterally in the event of a war with North Korea.

Rep. Lee Choon-suk of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy raised the issue of unwanted Japanese forces during a parliamentary audit, asking Han if the country could turn down the U.S. military’s request for the entry of Japanese forces in the event of a North Korea-waged war.

South Korea “can” do so, Han said in response.

“The wartime operational control (OPCON) is something that is executed under the leadership of both South Korean and U.S. presidents, therefore if our president does not allow it, (the entry) is not permitted,” the defense minister noted.

Under the current bilateral alliance, the U.S. military assumes the OPCON of South Korean forces in the event of a war on the Korean Peninsula, with both sides agreeing last year to delay the planned return of wartime OPCON to Seoul until South Korea is capable of countering North Korean threats.

Japan should obtain the approval of the South Korean government before the country exercises its right to collective self-defense on issues related to the peninsula, Han said, reiterating the official South Korean stance on the issue.

South Korea is also demanding Japan seek prior consent from Seoul before deciding on any potential plans to dispatch Japanese troops into North Korea, Han noted, referring to the possibility of Japan launching a military operation in the communist country.

Japan has not clarified its position on the matter, the defense minister said, adding that the subject will be put up for discussion between Seoul and Tokyo.


  1. Chiu Kok-chiung

    September 22, 2015 at 12:20 AM

    The U.S. government has pulled out all the stops in pushing its arms and weapons sales across the globe by creating tensions and triggering
    wars here and there. Hence, the United States is the only war-monger
    and war criminal in the world today!

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  4. Robert

    September 22, 2015 at 11:17 AM

    On mere numbers, south does not need any foreign body in countering north, even United States stationed in south. What if not? From the near history of confronting the north, it is hard to conclude. South is supposed to get done by itself.