Anchor: A continuing row between South Korea and Japan over Tokyo's radar claims and recent flybys appears to be taking a toll on the two nations’ military exchanges. South Korea's senior Navy official has called off a planned visit to Japan next month, while Tokyo is reported to be reviewing its plan to send warships to an international maritime exercise co-hosted by Seoul in April.
Choi You Sun has this report.
Report: Military officials in Seoul said Monday that the commander of the Navy's First Fleet Rear Admiral Kim Myung-soo has canceled his planned trip to the Maizuru District of Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force next month.
The trip was part of the two countries' annual exchange program, under which each side sends a senior Navy officer on alternate years.
A government source said Seoul decided it would be "inappropriate" to send an official following a Japanese patrol plane's "threateningly" low-altitude flight toward a South Korean destroyer in the East Sea on December 20th.
The two sides' prolonged spat was triggered by Tokyo's claim that the South Korean destroyer, Gwanggaeto the Great, locked its fire-control radar on its patrol plane.
Tensions further escalated after Japan conducted low-altitude flybys near South Korean warships three times this month.
Japan is also reportedly reconsidering its plan to dispatch warships including its helicopter carrier Izumo in April to participate in an international maritime exercise in waters off the Korean Peninsula.
According to NHK Saturday, Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters that he wants to carry out a review to determine what form of the Japanese participation in the exercise will be "appropriate."
The exercise is under consideration by members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Ministers' Meeting-Plus, including the U.S. and China. It is expected to start in waters off South Korea's southeastern port city of Busan and to move all the way to Singapore.
Diplomacy and security experts in Seoul have voiced concerns that the two sides' tit-for-tat approach would only exacerbate tensions.
Referring to South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo's visit to the Navy's Fleet Command on Saturday following his Japanese counterpart's visit to a naval airbase, experts said Seoul should take a strategic approach after determining Tokyo's intentions.
Choi You Sun, KBS World Radio News.