In a call with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin on Aug. 19, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington is committed to defending the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan.
“The Secretary expressed his appreciation for President Yoon [Suk-yeol]’s remarks during his Liberation Day address, particularly the ROK’s concerted efforts to improve its relationship with Japan and secure the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The Secretary reaffirmed the U.S. ironclad commitment to the defense of the ROK and Japan,” Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said in an Aug. 19 statement.
The duo exchanged views on the importance of cooperating to uphold “international rules-based order” and the stability of the Indo-Pacific region, including the Taiwan Strait. Blinken highlighted the importance of Washington adopting policies that ensure the economic security of both South Korea and the United States.
The meeting comes as South Korea and China have recently clashed over the U.S. missile defense shield system Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) installed in the country.
On Aug. 17, a spokesperson for Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said the THAAD deployment in South Korea undermines the strategic security interest of China.
Lee Jong-sup, South Korea’s defense minister, said his country’s policy on THAAD won’t be altered just because China is opposed to it. He also clarified that the THAAD system’s radar can’t be used against China.
“The current battery is not structured to play any role in U.S. defenses but placed in a location where it can only defend the Korean peninsula,” Lee told reporters, according to Reuters.
Tensions between China and Japan have also been heating up. Japan, together with the Group of Seven nations, criticized China for its threatening war games around Taiwan earlier this month.
Five ballistic missiles fired by China during the war games fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone, triggering diplomatic protests from Tokyo.
“The Japan–China security environment has entered a new phase,” a senior Japanese Defense Ministry official said, according to Nikkei Asia.
In its annual defense report issued in July, Tokyo’s defense ministry cited stability surrounding Taiwan as a “critical” element for Japan’s national security.
Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi also criticized the communist regime for trying to coercively change the status quo in the South China and East China seas.
“The country’s ties with Russia, an aggressor nation, have deepened in recent years, with joint navigations and flights being conducted in the areas surrounding Japan by both Chinese and Russian vessels and aircraft,” Kishi said in the report.