US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, second left, shakes hands with the Republic of Korea (ROK)'s Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo, first right, during their meeting in Seoul, ROK, Aug 9, 2019. (POOL PHOTO VIA AP)
SEOUL — Japan's export curbs on the Republic of Korea (ROK) negatively affected the trilateral security cooperation among ROK, the United States and Japan, ROK Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said Friday.
Jeong made the remark during his meeting with US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, who arrived here on Thursday for a two-day visit on the final leg of his five-country trip to the Asia-Pacific region since he took office last month, according to Newsis news agency.
Japan is causing an adverse effect on relations between (Republic of) Korea and Japan and security cooperation between (Republic of) Korea, the United States and Japan by raising security issues and announcing economic retaliatory measures such as export curbs and the removal from its white list.
Jeong Kyeong-doo, ROK defense minister
"Japan is causing an adverse effect on relations between (Republic of) Korea and Japan and security cooperation between (Republic of) Korea, the United States and Japan by raising security issues and announcing economic retaliatory measures such as export curbs and the removal from its white list," Jeong was quoted as saying.
Japan removed ROK last week from its "white list" of trusted trading partners, after tightening regulations last month on its export to ROK of three materials vital to produce memory chips and display panels.
Following Japan's announcement of the "white list" removal, ROK's presidential Blue House said it would review whether to continue exchanging sensitive military intelligence with Japan, referring to the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA).
The GSOMIA was signed in November 2016 by ROK and Japan to share military intelligence on nuclear and missile programs of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Many ROK people saw the deal with Japan as unacceptable because the Japanese leadership had yet to sincerely apologize for its militaristic history. The Korean Peninsula was colonized by Imperial Japan between 1910 and 1945.
The GSOMIA had been automatically renewed each year in August. If either party wants to scrap the pact, the party is required to notify the other of its intention 90 days in advance. This year's notification deadline falls on Aug 24.
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, third from left, holds a talk with ROK Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo, first from right, during their meeting in Seoul, ROK, Aug 9, 2019. (POOL PHOTO VIA AP)
Jeong highlighted that the DPRK fired off several short-range projectiles in recent weeks amid the continued efforts for the denuclearization and the peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula.
He noted that despite the grave security situations, the Korean Peninsula peace process would be made possible based on the strong ROK-US alliance.
Pyongyang test-launched short-range projectiles in recent weeks in protest against the ROK-US joint annual military exercises, which kicked off on Monday, and Seoul's adoption of US-made stealth fighter jets.
The combined forces of ROK and the United States were scheduled to start the initial operational capability (IOC) verification from Sunday to verify ROK military's capability for the transfer of wartime operational control of ROK troops from Washington to Seoul.
ROK's wartime operational command was handed over to the US-led UN Command after the three-year Korean War broke out in 1950. Seoul regained its peacetime command in 1994.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon chief reaffirmed the "ironclad" ROK-US alliance, calling it the "linchpin of peace and security" on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia.
Before the meeting with ROK's defense chief, Esper met with ROK Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha to discuss major issues between Seoul and Washington.
He was reportedly slated to pay a courtesy call to ROK President Moon Jae-in and hold a meeting with Chung Eui-yong, top national security adviser for Moon.
HONG KONG NEWS