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ROK opposition decries Camp David pact

2023-09-26 00:59:56 Sports
The Republic of Korea's move to step up security cooperation with the United States and Japan under a trilateral pact has evoked criticism within the ROK, with opposition parties in Seoul saying the agreement is not in the ROK's interests.

"Many people see this summit as one where the national interests of the U.S. and Japan are visible but not those of the ROK," said Park Kwangon, floor leader of the ROK's main opposition Democratic Party.

ROK opposition decries Camp David pact

Speaking at a party meeting on Monday, Park said the framework of the ROK-U.S.-Japan cooperation should not be a confrontational strategy that focuses on military cooperation, but a cooperation strategic framework that promotes peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.

ROK opposition decries Camp David pact

Lee Jae-myung, head of ROK's Democratic Party, said Yoon failed to raise territory issues with Japan, as well as concerns over Japan's planned release of nuclear-contaminated water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

U.S. President Joe Biden, ROK President Yoon Suk-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida agreed on Friday to a trilateral security cooperation during a summit held at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland, in the United States.

A series of documents were adopted at the summit, including a "Commitment to Consult", which said the three countries committed their governments to "consult trilaterally with each other, in an expeditious manner, to coordinate our responses to regional challenges, provocations, and threats affecting our collective interests and security".

Though the documents did not use the term "military alliance", Woo Su-keun, head of the Institute of East Asian Studies of Korea in the ROK, said the trilateral meeting has laid the foundation for forming an "Asian NATO".

Real target

The real target of trilateral cooperation is China and not the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK, because the latter is not a big threat to the U.S., Woo told China Daily, adding that the trilateral security cooperation may further increase tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

From the DPRK's perspective, if it feels a bigger threat to national security due to the enhanced defense cooperation among the U.S., the ROK and Japan, it is impossible for it to be willing to have a friendly and peaceful dialogue with the ROK, said Woo.

"This strengthened trilateral security cooperation is for sure going to push the DPRK away from the peace process," said Lakhvinder Singh, director of the peace program at the Asia Institute, a Seoul-based think tank.

"It has brought us closer to nuclear catastrophe", Singh said, noting that what the region needs is closer cooperation among the countries.

Singh said the trilateral cooperation puts too much focus on defense, while what the ROK and Japan really need to deal with is their economic situation.

The U.S. has taken the Russia-Ukraine conflict "as an opportunity to refurbish NATO and has forged the 'Indo-Pacific' strategy", senior international affairs writer Jung E-gil, noted in a commentary published in the ROK's newspaper Hankyoreh on Sunday.

With the Yoon government's "generous concession" to Japan, the trilateral alliance system has been put back on track, he said. Jung quoted Haruki Wada, an emeritus professor at Tokyo University, as saying that cooperation with Japan in a confrontation with fellow Koreans in the DPRK is the wrong course for the ROK.