Japan, S.Korea agree to resume high-level defense personnel exchanges

Japanese Defense Minister Kihara Minoru and his South Korean counterpart Shin Won-sik have agreed to resume exchanges between senior defense personnel after a suspension of six years. The exchanges were put on hold after a radar incident in 2018.

Kihara and Shin met on Saturday on the sidelines of the Shangri-La security forum in Singapore.

Kihara said he wants to discuss future defense cooperation, now that bilateral ties are improving thanks to both countries' leadership.

The ministers confirmed the content of safety measures drawn up by Japan's Self-Defense Forces and the South Korean Navy to prevent a recurrence of the radar incident.

In the 2018 incident, Japan says a South Korean Navy destroyer directed fire-control radar at an SDF patrol aircraft over the Sea of Japan. South Korea denies the accusation.

The ministers on Saturday did not discuss details of the case. The measures do not mention it, either. However, they specify that in the event one side considers actions by the other side pose a risk, and attempts to establish contact, the other party is urged to respond.

Kihara told reporters that both sides maintain their positions regarding the incident, but a recurrence could cause irreparable damage.

He said that resuming exchanges will help deepen bilateral ties and the two countries' relations with the United States, and promote the resolution of security challenges.

Speaking to reporters after the talks, Shin did not go into details of the preventive measures but said they will ensure the safety of South Korean naval vessels.

He expressed hope for deepening security cooperation with Japan and trilateral cooperation with the US, saying this will help restore mutual trust between South Korea and Japan, and help deter threats from North Korea.