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S. Korea calls Kan's remarks on Japanese troop dispatch 'unrealistic'
SEOUL, Dec. 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korean officials on Sunday brushed off as "unrealistic" Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan's remarks on a possible dispatch of his country's Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to the Korean Peninsula in case of contingencies.

   In a meeting Friday with the families of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea, Kan was quoted as saying that his government plans to hold talks with South Korea on sending SDF to rescue the abductees in the event of a contingency in the region.

   "I don't know in what context Prime Minister Kan's remarks were made," an official at the South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said, adding that they may not have come after thorough consideration. The Korean official said criticisms by Japanese media indicate that there was not anything concrete being planned.

   Jittered by North Korea's deadly artillery attack on the South Korean border island of Yeonpyeong last month, Japan has been looking at its own ability to deal with the belligerent Pyongyang regime.

   The United States suggested trilateral cooperation when Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of its Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during his Asia visit last week that he hoped Japan would participate in future joint drills by South Korea and the U.S. Japan had sent observers to such drills in July.

   South Korea is cautious about deepening military cooperation with Japan, given the history of Tokyo's brutal colonization of the Korean Peninsula from 1910-45.

   "Following the North's attack on Yeonpyeong Island, South Korea has strengthened strategic communication with the United States and Japan. But we are not in a situation to discuss that kind of an idea. (The two sides) have not had deep discussions on the issue," the Cheong Wa Dae official said on condition of anonymity.

   Some officials saw Kan's remarks as aimed at conservatives in his country who demand revising Japan's pacifist constitution that limits the dispatch of its troops overseas and bans the settlement of international disputes through the use of force.

   "There was no discussion (on the issue) with the South Korean government in advance," a senior official at Seoul's foreign ministry said, adding that Seoul was "rather surprised" by Kan's comments.