Japan to host international fleet review

Japan will host navies from around the world for an international fleet review today. The review marks the 70th anniversary

Japan international fleet review

Japan will host an international fleet review today – Photo: Japantimes/ Reuters

Japan will host navies from around the world for an international fleet review today.

The review marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force—Japan’s Navy. South Korea’s Navy will be participating for the first time in seven years despite ongoing economic and political tensions.

The fact Seoul is participating signals South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s clear priority in putting aside the ongoing diplomatic spat that arises from Tokyo’s refusal to recognize Korean legal rulings ordering Tokyo or Japanese companies to pay compensation for wartime treatment of Korean ‘comfort women’.

Yoon seeks to strengthen joint South Korean, Japanese and US military cooperation against North Korea. However, in doing so, he will likely draw flak domestically for not obtaining any concessions from Japan in exchange for Seoul’s policy of rapprochement. Yoon is likely calculating that the ongoing military escalation between Pyongyang and Seoul will outweigh domestic political risks.

Expect Yoon to continue balancing domestic anti-Japanese anger with a hardline policy towards North Korea—essentially isolating wartime compensations from bilateral defense relations. This suits Tokyo as it presently has no inclination to recognize Korean court-ordered compensation rulings. However, tensions on the Korean peninsula will likely escalate further in the medium term.