Japan, S Korea ink controversial intelligence deal
South Korea and Japan reached a controversial deal yesterday to share defense intelligence, Japanese officials said, despite protests from opposition parties and activists in Seoul. Japan controlled the Korean peninsula as a colony from 1910-1945, with the legacy of the harsh rule marring relations with both North and South Korea today. South Korea and Japan were on the verge of signing a deal in June 2012, but Seoul suddenly backtracked, with Japanese media blaming anti-Japanese sentiment among the South Korean public for the move.
Both sides reopened talks last month following North Korea’s continued advances in its nuclear and missile programs, which are seen as a threat in both countries. Officials meeting in Japan’s capital “reached a working agreement and conducted a provisional signing,” Japan’s foreign ministry said in a statement, without providing details. “We will continue making final arrangements toward the official signing,” the statement said.
The issue remains divisive in South Korea and the timing comes as the country has seen massive street demonstrations calling for the resignation of President Park Geun-Hye over a domestic political scandal. The deal has been fiercely opposed by South Korean opposition parties and civic activists, citing Seoul’s failure to seek public support and historical sensitivities. “Japan, which once occupied the Korean peninsula and enslaved Koreans with its military might, is still not admitting a lot of its past atrocities,” the main opposition Democratic Party said in a statement yesterday before the agreement was announced.
“This deal is an unpatriotic, humiliating deal that is opposed by our own people and not accepted by history.” The party also voiced concern over Japan’s growing military ambitions under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, describing the deal as “the first step towards allowing and recognizing Japan’s military rise.” However Tokyo lauded the agreement, saying the move was “important” for checking North Korea’s power. “It is important that Japan and South Korea cooperate to deal with North Korea’s nuclear and missile issues,” top Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters. — AFP
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