A Japanese warship arrived in South Korea on Monday to participate in a multinational naval drill this week aimed at preventing the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction, according to officials.
Japan's JS Hamagiri destroyer arrived in the southeastern port city of Busan to participate in the Eastern Endeavor 23 exercise Wednesday in the international waters southeast of South Korea's Jeju Island.
South Korea, the US, Australia, Japan, Canada and Singapore will join the exercise led by the South Korean Navy's Maritime Task Flotilla Seven. The exercise will be held a day after a high-level forum of the Proliferation Security Initiative on Tuesday.
As widely expected, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's warship arrived with the so-called Rising Sun flag hoisted. Critics have pointed out the image could trigger a historical controversy as the flag is seen as symbolic of Japan's past militarism.
Seoul's defense ministry has said it will not raise an issue with the use of the flag, calling it "common international practice."
The participating countries will mobilize a total of seven vessels and six aircraft, and they plan to form a "multinational coordination center" for cooperation in the sharing of information and other maritime procedures.
A Seoul official said the exercise does not target any particular nation, but a prevailing view has been that it will help enhance concerted efforts to forestall the possibility of North Korea's WMD proliferation. (Yonhap)