Singapore (Reuters) – Japan and South Korea agreed on Sunday to quickly resolve disputes over past military encounters that stand in the way of closer security cooperation, Japan’s defence minister said at the Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore.
Yasukazu Hamada held talks with his South Korean counterpart, Lee Jong-sup, as part of Asia’s top security conference.
“We discussed pending issues” and agreed “to accelerate talks, including steps to prevent a recurrence” of a 2018 radar incident, Hamada told reporters after the meeting.
“We will continue to keep close communication with South Korea,” he said.
In the 2018 incident, Seoul denied Tokyo’s assertion that a South Korean destroyer had locked its targeting radar on a Japanese surveillance plane, sparking a dispute that has hampered the Asian neighbours’ relationship.
Asked about the issue, Lee told reporters that he and Hamada “agreed to resolve it starting with working-level talks,” with a focus on devising measures to prevent a recurrence.
Lee and Hamada condemned a failed satellite launch by North Korea on Wednesday as a “grave violation” of U.N. Security Council resolutions banning all launches using ballistic missile technology, South Korea’s defence ministry said.
The ministers agreed on the need for greater security cooperation bilaterally and with their mutual ally the U.S. to curb the North’s nuclear and missile threats and promote a more stable Indo Pacific, the ministry said in a statement.
Hamada said he and Lee agreed on the importance of promoting defence cooperation among Japan, South Korea and the United States.