Japan, S.Korea defense ministers expected to discuss resuming exchanges

Defense ministers of Japan and South Korea are expected to discuss resuming exchanges between Japan's Self-Defense Forces and the South Korean military.

Japanese government sources say that coordination is underway for a meeting between Japan's Defense Minister Kihara Minoru and his South Korean counterpart Shin Won-sik on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, which will start on May 31 in Singapore.

Exchanges between the SDF and the South Korean military have been suspended following a radar incident in 2018.

The Japanese government says a South Korean Navy destroyer directed fire-control radar at an SDF patrol aircraft over the Sea of Japan. But South Korea says its ship did not aim radar at the plane.

As bilateral relations have improved, Japanese and South Korean defense ministers agreed last year to accelerate talks on issues including measures to prevent such incidents.

Kihara and Shin are not expected to have in-depth discussions over the radar incident, as the two sides remain apart on the issue, but instead are likely to focus on measures to prevent a recurrence based on international standards.

The ministers are also expected to discuss the resumption of joint exercises and exchanges.

If they reach an agreement, Japan and South Korea are expected to move ahead toward strengthening bilateral security cooperation, including responses to North Korea, which is pushing forward its nuclear and missile development programs.