The official media of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) accused Japan of attempting to send more troops overseas under the excuse of close cooperation with NATO.
"Shortly ago, Kyodo News reported that the (Shinzo) Abe government is working to set up a mission at NATO for the purpose of discussing the matter of 'cooperation' in ensuring regional security with member states of NATO," the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a commentary on Tuesday.
"In case such plan comes true, Japan can more easily realize its ambition of dispatching the SDF (Self-Defense Forces) even to Europe under the pretense of "cooperation" with NATO and usher the NATO military forces into Asia when necessary," it added.
Not long ago, the Japanese government decided to extend the area of the SDF for overseas dispatch to Asia though it was limited to Africa under the pretext of its joining in the UN peace-keeping activities, KCNA said.
Japan has kept SDF members stationed at the UN mission headquarters in South Sudan since 2012 and decided in May to extend the tour of duty for four SDF members through to May 31 next year despite that Japan officially ended its Ground Self-Defense Force civil engineering units' five-year deployment to South Sudan in 2017.
Under Japan's pacifist Constitution, overseas deployment and activities by Japanese SDF troops has been restricted. But through highly contentious and publicly denounced security legislation that was forced through both chambers of parliament and into law in 2016, the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe succeeded in expanding the role of Japanese SDF troops overseas.