Ministry rejects report on S. Korea-Japan talks on military contingency cooperation in Korean waters

South Korea's defense ministry dismissed as untrue a media report Tuesday that Seoul and Tokyo have been in working-level talks to explore the possibility of bilateral military cooperation in Korean waters in the event of a contingency.

The local daily, The Hankook Ilbo, reported on it, as growing North Korean threats have created momentum for the two neighbors to step up security cooperation despite lingering historical tensions stemming from Japan's 1910-45 colonization of the Korean Peninsula.

"The report that South Korea and Japan are discussing maritime security cooperation within our territorial waters is untrue," Jeon Ha-kyu, the ministry's spokesperson, told a regular press briefing. "We have no plans (for such discussions."

Opposition to direct military cooperation with Japan lingers in South Korea, as Japanese right-wing politicians have visited the Yasukuni Shrine, seen as a symbol of Japan's past militarism, with Tokyo renewing claims to the South's easternmost islets of Dokdo.

Seoul, Washington and Tokyo have conducted trilateral maritime drills in the international waters near the peninsula, but not inside Korean territory.

Source: Yonhap News Agency