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S. Korea Decides to End Military Info-Sharing Deal with Japan

#Hot Issues of the Week l 2019-08-25



Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday expressed regret over South Korea's decision to terminate a bilateral military intelligence-sharing agreement the previous day.

"South Korea continues to take actions which damage trust with Japan. Japan has been handling the matter in an effort not to impact the cooperation between it, the U.S. and South Korea in the face of the current security situation in Northeast Asia."

Speaking to reporters ahead of his departure for the Group of Seven summit in France on Friday, Abe vowed to continue to closely coordinate with the U.S. to safeguard national security, as well as regional peace and prosperity.

The prime minister specifically referred to the 1965 bilateral treaty that normalized South Korea and Japan's diplomatic relations, which Tokyo claims was violated after the South Korean top court last year ordered Japanese firms to compensate Korean victims of wartime forced labor.

"Japan will urge South Korea to recover mutual trust, including resolving the matter of a violation of the international treaty between Japan and South Korea. Japan hopes South Korea will keep their promise."

In apparent retaliation for the court ruling, Tokyo introduced barriers on exports to the peninsula and has revoked South Korea’s preferential trading partner status.

This prompted Seoul's decision on Thursday not to extend the General Security of Military Information Agreement(GSOMIA), citing a "grave change" in security cooperation conditions.

Regarding Washington's apparent concern and disappointment over Seoul's decision, President Moon Jae-in's deputy security adviser Kim Hyun-chong said Friday that the allies had closely consulted on the matter.

"After much thought and consideration, yesterdays' decision to terminate the South Korea-Japan GSOMIA was made for national interest. GSOMIA is for exchanging sensitive military intelligence based on a high-level of bilateral trust, but as Japan claims basic trust between South Korea and Japan has been damaged, we lost grounds to maintain GSOMIA."

Kim pledged that Seoul will make efforts to ensure the termination of the deal will not weaken the Seoul-Washington alliance, but instead offer an opportunity to upgrade it.

The senior official said Seoul plans to actively utilize a 2014 trilateral security info-sharing deal with the U.S. and Japan, increase defense spending and expand strategic assets to reinforce the country's security capacity.

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