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Thursday, February 22, 2024

NATO creeping into Asia – North Korea

The DPRK slammed Tokyo’s plans to open the first Asia-based liaison office for the US-led military bloc

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry has claimed NATO is seeking to increase its influence in Asia, citing growing “military collusion” with Japan, which hosted a delegation from the military alliance last month to discuss ways to step up cooperation.

In comments carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Monday, an official with the Foreign Ministry’s Japan Research Center, Kim Seol-hwa, said Washington is gradually pushing NATO into Asia through partnerships with regional powers.

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“It is an open secret that the United States… has been trying to create a military alliance like this in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said, adding that the “recent unprecedented military collusion between Japan and NATO is arousing great concern and alertness in the international community.”

Kim went on to cite recent reports that NATO is now in talks to open a “liaison office” in Japan, its first such facility in Asia. The office would be used to “conduct periodic consultations with Japan and key partners in the region such as South Korea, Australia and New Zealand,” according to the Nikkei Asia news website.

“All facts clearly show that NATO’s attempt to advance into the Asia-Pacific region through military collusion with Japan has entered a dangerous implementation phase,” the Foreign Ministry official continued, also pointing to other “confrontational alliances” such as the ‘Quad’ bloc – which Beijing has decried as an “Asian NATO” – and AUKUS pact between Australia, the UK and the US.

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Last month, Japan hosted a delegation from NATO’s Cooperative Security Division, which met with senior military leaders to “discuss the current military cooperation and opportunities to foster a stronger partnership,” as well as future joint drills with Japan’s armed forces.

Further highlighting the increased cooperation, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg sat down with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels on April 4, where the two officials vowed to further strengthen their partnership. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also met with the NATO chief earlier this year, after attending an alliance summit in 2022, a first for a Japanese premier.

Kim argued that NATO’s overtures to countries like Japan and South Korea were part of plans to “build a huge anti-China and anti-Russia encirclement” in the broader region, claiming the US-led alliance hopes to “keep neighboring countries in check” while expanding its military footprint across the continent.