Seoul dismisses possibility of military ties with Tokyo

Seoul, Dec 27: South Korea Friday dismissed the possibility for further military ties with Japan, citing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to a controversial war shrine.

Asked about whether there is any scheduled exchange of military personnel between Seoul and Tokyo next year, deputy spokesperson of South Korean defence ministry Wi Yong-seop told a routine press briefing that he had no choice but to ask back whether it would be possible for any exchange to take place given Japan’s untrustworthy behaviour as seen in Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, Xinhua reported.

His comments came after Abe paid respects at the Shinto war shrine Thursday for the first time in around seven years as the incumbent Japanese prime minister. Former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi paid a visit in August 2006.

The shrine is a symbol of Japan’s wartime militarism as 14 war criminals, who were convicted by an allied tribunal for war crimes, were enshrined there.

The South Korean government, in a statement, said Abe’s visit clearly demonstrates his erroneous understanding of history, warning against further frosty relations between South Korea and Japan and worsening cooperation in the region.

China Thursday condemned Abe’s visit to the shrine, saying the gesture is “a major new political obstacle” to already strained relations.