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(LEAD) Japan reaffirms 'no troop dispatch' to Korean Peninsula without consent

All Headlines 20:22 August 05, 2015

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES throughout)

SEOUL, Aug. 5 (Yonhap) -- Japan reaffirmed Wednesday it would not send its troops to the Korean Peninsula without a request or prior consent from South Korea even though the country is expanding the role of its self-defense forces, the Defense Ministry in Seoul said.

Earlier, Japan stressed that Tokyo would never send troops to the Peninsula even for a contingency without permission from the Seoul government.

"Japan's defense minister is explaining to its assembly on its position that (Japanese self-defense forces) will not enter the territory of South Korea if there's no consent from the country," a defense ministry official quoted a group of Japanese officials as saying during a working-level defense policy meeting.

"The Japanese side has reasserted this is the Japanese government's basic stance."

Earlier in the day, the neighbors held the 21st round of the working-level defense policy meetings in Seoul, resuming the director-level defense dialogue channel after over two years.

Since the last round held in Tokyo in March 2013, the annual meeting was suspended last year due to worsening diplomatic ties over unresolved history-related feuds.

The South Korean side was headed by Yoon Soon-ku, the ministry's director general on international policy, while the Japanese delegation was led by his counterpart, Atsuo Suzuki.

The Japanese side has also suggested the signing of two military agreements -- the General Security of Military Information Agreement and the Cross-Servicing Agreement -- during the session, but the Korean side was cautious, the defense official said on condition of anonymity.

"Forging these agreements requires the understanding and support from the public," he said, referring to public anxieties over military intelligence with the former colonial ruler. "It should be reviewed carefully."

Both sides have also shared information on the current security status of North Korea, confirming the prospect that the communist country is highly likely to test-launch a long-range missile or conduct other military provocations, the official noted.

Mindful of South Korea's security concerns, the Japanese side has offered an explanation on its moves to reconfigure national security laws and other rearmament steps in recent years.

Japan had wanted to discuss a South Korean visit by the country's defense minister within this year, but Seoul did not accept it, citing "improper timing," according to the official.


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