You’ve probably heard about the naval exercises off the coast of South Korea, as three U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups conduct drills with South Korean warships, but a Japanese newspaper reports that South Korea rejected an American plan to include Japanese vessels in the maneuvers. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.
According to the Nikkei Asian Review, South Korea refused to allow Japanese participation out of concern for its relations with China. The newspaper cites both South Korean and Japanese diplomatic sources. Instead, the American carrier groups exercised first with the Japanese ships, then with the South Koreans. South Korea also expressed reservations about joint exercises where U.S., Japanese and Australian destroyers simulated the interception of nuclear material en route to North Korea.
Last month, South Korea and China agreed to try to improve relations which had turned frosty over Beijing’s objections to the deployment of THAAD, a new American anti-ballistic missile system.
But South Korea also cited public sentiment, code for the hard feelings that stem from Japan’s occupation of Korea. Lingering hatred has centered on the issue of the “Comfort Women.”
Korean women and girls forced to work as sex slaves in Japanese Army brothels during the Second World War. Tokyo’s offers of an apology and compensation have been rejected as inadequate by surviving comfort women and by the anti-Japanese movement that’s grown up around them, which sets up bronze statues of comfort women around the world in places intended to embarrass Japan. Even the nuclear threat from North Korea has not overcome the hostility, and the armed forces of America’s most important Asian allies do not work together.