Military ties of S. Korea, U.S., Japan headed in right direction: USFJ commander
WASHINGTON-- Military relations between the United States, Japan and South Korea are headed in the right direction, although political conditions prevent them from moving as fast as they can, the commander of U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ) said Thursday.
Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider also claimed there is a desire among the countries' militaries to further develop their trilateral cooperation.
"Certainly, on a mil-to-mil aspect of mil-to-mil relationship, there is a desire to do more," the USFJ commander said in a webinar hosted by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.
"That will move at the pace of local politics or domestic politics, but I think ... with the old standard saying that we, the three nations, have more in common than we do that separate us, we have got to be able to continue to focus on the challenges in front of us," he added.
Seoul-Tokyo relations are currently at their lowest ebb as they began to deteriorate in 2019 when Japan took a series of economic and trade measures against South Korea that were widely viewed as aimed at retaliating for Seoul court decisions that ruled in favor of South Koreans forced into free labor or sexual slavery during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea.
Schneider noted such conditions prevented the countries' trilateral relationship from developing as fast as many would like, but insisted their military cooperation was still moving in the right direction.
"It's not moving as fast as probably any of us would like, but I am at the same time encouraged by the fact that the mil-to-mil relationship and dialogue is pointed in the right direction between the three nations," said Schneider, who is also the commander of U.S. Fifth Air Force at Yokota Air Base.
South Korea, Japan and the U.S. recently held a trilateral air exercise in Alaska, known as the Red Flag, an annual joint drill that is aimed at improving the countries' interoperability and cooperation.
"Those in uniform, I think, again are clear-eyed on the threats and challenges that face all of us collectively and recognize that going forward in the future to be successful, we have got to work together trilaterally or multilaterally to be able to be effective," the USFJ commander added.
Source: Yonhap News Agency