The military forces of South Korea, the US and Japan conducted their first air maneuvers on Sunday in response to North Korea’s threats, the South’s air force said.
The maneuvers seek to implement a previous agreement between the three countries to strengthen their defense cooperation and strengthen their ability to respond to North Korean threats, the air force said in a statement. statement.
A US B-52 bomber and fighters from the South and Japan took part in the maneuver, the statement said.
South Korea and Japan are key allies of the United States in Asia, hosting a total of about 80,000 American troops.
The three countries sometimes conduct tripartite naval exercises, such as submarine or missile defense exercises, but this is the first joint air exercise.
In South Korea, military exercises with Japan are a sensitive issue because many South Koreans hold a grudge against Japan for its brutal colonial rule on the Korean Peninsula in 1910-45. But the North’s nuclear program has led South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol to set aside disputes with Japan and step up military cooperation between that country and the United States.
In August, Yoon, US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met at Camp David in the first tripartite summit between those countries and agreed to increase their cooperation in the face of North Korean nuclear threats. The three leaders decided to conduct maneuvers and share information in real time about North Korean missiles.
The exercises could provoke an angry response from the North, which often protests when the United States conducts exercises in the South, considering them a rehearsal for an invasion, and often responds to those missile test. The North criticized the Camp David accord, accusing the United States, the South and Japan of plotting provocations. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called Yoon, Biden and Kishida “the three mafia bosses.”
Concerns about North Korea’s nuclear program have grown since the North passed a law allowing for the restriction of the use of nuclear weapons last year, and has since threatened to use them in potential conflicts with the United States and South Korea.