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North Korea tests limits of South Korea, Japan cooperation

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While attempting to judge North Korea’s seriousness about wanting to return to the table and “end confrontation” with the South, as North Korea’s media stated in a New Year's editorial, Japanese officials are spreading the word about Japan-Korea cooperation.

How could Japan and South Korea cooperate?

Japan will outline terms of an agreement with South Korea for exchanging equipment, information, fuel, medicine, even food and water, if a war were to break out, according to official briefings given to the Japanese media. Japan’s defense minister, Toshimi Kitazawa, will be discussing the deal with Korea’s defense minister, Kim Kwan-jin, next week.

Japan’s biggest selling newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, followed up that revelation with a report Wednesday that Japan and South Korea may sign an agreement in several months calling for military cooperation in peacetime despite “lingering disputes concerning Japan’s colonial rule.”

The newspaper cited “growing uncertainty in East Asia,” notably “increased aggression by China and North Korea,” as behind the view that “enhanced bilateral defense ties are indispensable.”

US officials, in view of the sensitivities, are reluctant to comment on the chances of greater Japan-Korea military cooperation, much less an alliance.

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