South China Morning Post
January 24, 2023
Nato cements ties with South Korea, Japan as security challenges mount
Nato chief’s visits to Seoul and Tokyo next week reflect the greater emphasis the transatlantic partnership is putting on East Asia, an analyst said
Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is set to visit South Korea and Japan from Monday to reinforce the transatlantic security alliance’s ties with its key partners in the region….
The war in Ukraine will also be high on the agenda, with Tokyo and Seoul likely to confirm the release of additional non-lethal equipment for Kyiv. Previously, the two governments provided battlefield medical supplies, body armour, helmets, generators and communications equipment….
…South Korea, for example, recently signed an agreement with Poland to provide heavy tanks, self-propelled artillery and fighter trainer aircraft, which frees up Warsaw to release its own equipment to Ukraine.
[W]hile Japan is presently constrained by self-imposed rules that mean it cannot send offensive weapons to a country involved in a conflict, analysts point out that there is growing support – both politically and among the public – for the rule to be lifted in the future.
Stoltenberg is expected to arrive in Seoul on Sunday and will hold talks with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, Foreign Minister Park Jin and Defence Minister Lee Jong-sup before travelling to Tokyo for discussions with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
“Nato has in recent months been placing greater emphasis on deepening and broadening cooperation with nations in East Asia, but particularly Japan and South Korea,” said an analyst with the National Institute of Defence Studies in Tokyo.
“For Nato and Stoltenberg, the idea is to highlight that the Ukraine crisis is not a European crisis but a global crisis and a challenge to the rules-based order….And that is why they are keen for other countries, particularly Japan, to get involved and offer support.”