Japan for closer military ties with Seoul

TOKYO, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Japan's defense minister will seek closer military relations with South Korea amid a looming threat from North Korea, Japanese media report.

Toshimi Kitazawa is scheduled to travel to South Korea next week. The New York Times, citing Japanese media reports, said he will be carrying several proposals for strengthening bilateral military ties, even though there is still bitterness in South Korea about colonial Japan in the last century.


Citing sources without naming them, Japanese media said Kitazawa would propose Tokyo and Seoul conclude separate agreements to cooperate in supplying each other's armed forces during peacekeeping and other international operations, and to facilitate sharing of delicate military information, the Times said.

Kitazawa also would seek increased military contacts through high-level meetings among defense officials of the two countries.

A Japanese defense ministry spokeswoman declined comment on the reports, but noted the Japanese media-sourced reports all carried the same information, indicating they may have come during an official background briefing.

Kitazawa's trip will come in the wake of the Asian visit of Stephen Bosworth, the special U.S. envoy for North Korea to discuss further steps on the Korean Peninsula. Bosworth arrived in Seoul Tuesday and was also scheduled to visit Tokyo and Beijing.

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