The joint training exercises by the United States, Japan and South Korea for ballistic missile defense will be held for the first time in Hawaii at the end of June. Each country is to send one AEGIS-level vessel and take part in a missile warning exercise using U.S. aircraft in place of ballistic missiles. Clearly, this is a ROK-U.S.-Japan joint military training exercise, and a step toward a triangular military alliance. The justification for this training is to suppress North Korea’s growing missile threat, but it’s easy to give the impression that South Korea is joining the U.S. and Japan’s movement to check China’s growing military. Considering furthermore the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system to South Korea, promoted by South Korea and the U.S. but opposed by China and Russia, this is not merely a military issue, but a possible trigger to international diplomatic and security issues. It’s not just the security of South Korea, but the order of all of Northeast Asia that is in peril.
The South Korean military authorities promoting this training display an unclear and closed-off attitude. It was only after Japan’s Asahi News reported on the matter the South Korean military reluctantly confirmed the training. Adding to this lack of reliability is South Korea’s explanation for the joint training, emphasizing that the purpose is only to share intelligence between South Korea, Japan and the U.S. according to the intelligence-gathering pact signed in 2014 by the three countries to respond to North Korea’s growing missile threat. This ludicrous explanation is analogous to saying that helping to identify the target doesn’t count as participating in a shooting drill since there’s no actual firing being done.
While it’s reasonable that serious training would have to be implemented if the country were indeed in grave danger, the military shouldn’t be deciding matters regarding national interests. This matter is such an example, for an ROK-U.S.-Japan missile defense system deployment and military alliance should be discussed in the context of overall national interests. A national military policy without public support is a danger to the nation.