U.S. Seeks To Align South Korea/Japan Missile Warning Pact

Lloyd Austin

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin pictured Jan. 30 arriving at Osan Air Base for bilateral talks with South Korea.

Credit: Lee Jin-Man/Getty Images

SINGAPORE—South Korea and the U.S. are looking to strengthen their security cooperation with Japan, specifically through the trilateral sharing of missile-warning data, following the state visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to Seoul.

Missile data sharing was first agreed to at the November 2022 Phnom Penh Summit. The Pentagon says the next step is trilateral talks on specific courses of action.

Both countries also will hold a Deterrence Strategy Committee tabletop exercise to discuss deterrence and responses to North Korea’s missile threat.

Defense against both North Korean and potentially Chinese ballistic missiles are among Seoul and Tokyo’s top defense priorities. In the recent mid-term defense plan for 2023-27, South Korea said it will develop its own missile defense system; enhance missile detection, warning and tracking systems; and built counterstrike capabilities from the air, land and sea, including new Aegis-capable destroyers. This closely mirrors Japan’s national defense strategy released this January.

However, aligning both countries’ military capabilities will be an uphill task, especially since both governments are still at odds over World War II compensation, and their bilateral military ties are at best superficial.

Austin’s visit took place in parallel with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s trip to the two nations. Stoltenberg was briefed on the Japan Air Self Defense Force’s C-2 airlifter, F-2 fighter and Patriot surface-to-air missiles at Iruma Air Base. Tokyo has pledged to enhance ties with NATO.

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.