Japan, South Korea defence chiefs to meet amid North Korea’s threats


South Korean Defence Minister Han Min Koo and his Japanese counterpart Gen Nakatani will meet next week in Seoul to discuss Tokyo’s controversial military legislation and North Korea’s nuclear threats, South Korea said Friday.

Nakatani, who will be the first Japanese defence minister to visit South Korea in four years, is scheduled to arrive in Seoul on Tuesday and meet Han.

The two are expected to discuss Japan’s military legislation, enacted in September, and North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes.

The legislation would allow the Japanese military to fight in wars overseas alongside allies for the first time since the end of World War II. Article 9 of Japan’s war-renouncing constitution prohibits the use of force to settle international disputes.

The move has caused concerns in South Korea that it could lead to unwanted involvement by Japan in issues on the Korean Peninsula, where US forces are stationed, Yonhap News agency reported.

Han “will hear and discuss the Japanese side’s explanation regarding the security law passed in September,” the South Korean Defence Ministry said, according to Yonhap.

The meeting could pave the way for a possible meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun Hye on the sidelines of a trilateral meeting of Japan, China and South Korea, Japan’s Jiji Press reported.

The three countries are in the final stage of talks on arranging a meeting of their leaders for November 1 in Seoul, Jiji reported, citing unnamed Japanese government sources.

Tokyo is planning to set up the first one-on-one meeting between Abe and Park on the same day, Jiji said.

In Washington, Park, who was set to meet US President Barack Obama on Friday, said, “I do feel that I can have such a meeting with [Abe],” Kyodo News agency reported.