SEOUL, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's Defense Ministry on Tuesday expressed concerns over Japan's push for collective self-defense right, saying that it should not cause instability in Northeast Asia.
"Our government's stance is that Japan's push for collective self-defense right should not cause regional instability," Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told a routine press briefing.
Kim said that Japan has the right to decide on its self-defense, but he noted that neighboring countries, including South Korea, worried about Japan's intention behind the push due to its " regressive" remarks and no repentance over its past wrongdoings.
Ties between South Korea and Japan have been strained since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in late 2012. In December last year, Abe visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, a symbol of Japan's militaristic past as it enshrines 14 World War II class-A war criminals.
The ongoing historical and territorial disputes between the two countries stemmed from Japan's colonial rule of South Korea from 1910 to 1945. Those include Korean "comfort women," or those coerced into sex slavery at the Japanese military brothel during the World War II, and the territorial dispute over the islets off South Korea's east coast known as Dokdo here and Takeshima in Japan.
Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said Monday during the parliamentary interpellation session that as the exercise of Japan 's collective self-defense right is a matter of its own, Tokyo can push for it as long as it complies with Japan's Peace Constitution and contributes to regional peace and prosperity.
In October 2013, U.S. secretaries of state and defense met with their Japanese counterparts in Tokyo, permitting Japan to exercise its right of collective self-defense, which the 1947 U.S.-drafted constitution has prevented from being exercised. It could mean Japan scraps restrictions on its military and initiate hostilities on behalf of its allies.