S. Korea, US, Japan to launch trilateral ‘Freedom Edge’ exercise this summer

Defense Minister Shin Won-sik, right, and his U.S. and Japanese counterparts, Lloyd Austin, center, and Minoru Kihara, shake hands as they meet for trilateral talks on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore, June 2. Yonhap

The defense chiefs of South Korea, the United States and Japan agreed Sunday to launch a regular trilateral multidomain exercise this summer, Seoul’s defense ministry said, amid joint efforts to strengthen security cooperation against evolving North Korean threats.

Defense Minister Shin Won-sik, and his U.S. and Japanese counterparts, Lloyd Austin and Minoru Kihara, respectively, reached the agreement during their three-way talks on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore, according to the ministry.

The exercise, named Freedom Edge, will take place across various domains, including air, maritime, underwater and cyber. It takes its name from key bilateral exercises the U.S. holds with the Asian neighbors — Freedom Shield with South Korea and Keen Edge with Japan.

The ministry did not provide further details of the planned exercise, such as its specific timing and location.

While the three sides have previously held joint maritime and air drills, Freedom Edge would mark the first exercise of its kind after their countries’ leaders agreed last year on various efforts to deter North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.

Last August, President Yoon Suk Yeol, U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida agreed to hold “annual, named, multidomain” trilateral exercises on a regular basis during their summit at Camp David.

Shin and his U.S. and Japanese counterparts also agreed to hold a trilateral table-top exercise to discuss various threats in the Indo-Pacific region and come up with a framework document for trilateral security cooperation 추천 efforts by the end of this year, such as holding senior-level talks.

They also agreed to optimize their system to share North Korean missile warning data in real time — activated last December — to better deter and respond to the North’s provocations, the ministry said.

The announcement comes in the wake of North Korea’s continued saber-rattling, including its botched attempt to launch a military spy satellite Monday and launches of short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea on Thursday

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