S.korea to scrap mil­i­tary in­tel-shar­ing pact

Ja­panese of­fi­cial says im­pact would be ‘lim­ited’

Global Times US Edition - - FRONT PAGE -

South Korea said on Thurs­day it will ter­mi­nate its mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence-shar­ing pact with Ja­pan, the lat­est swipe in an in­ten­si­fy­ing tit-for-tat trade and di­plo­matic dis­pute be­tween the two neigh­bors.

The de­ci­sion comes with the coun­tries at log­ger­heads fol­low­ing a se­ries of South Korean court rul­ings against Ja­panese firms, re­quir­ing them to pay for forced la­bor dur­ing World War II.

Ear­lier this month Ja­pan had re­moved South Korea from a so-called white list of coun­tries that re­ceive pref­er­en­tial ex­port treat­ment.

Tokyo had done so cit­ing se­cu­rity con­cerns and a loss of trust with South Korea, but did not pro­vide “con­crete ev­i­dence to sup­port those al­le­ga­tions,” Kim You-geun, a na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cial at Seoul’s pres­i­den­tial Blue House, said Thurs­day. This caused “fun­da­men­tal changes” to the na­ture of de­fence co­op­er­a­tion, he added.

“Un­der these cir­cum­stances, the govern­ment of the Repub­lic of Korea de­cided that main­tain­ing this agree­ment, which was signed to fa­cil­i­tate the ex­change of sen­si­tive mil­i­tary in­for­ma­tion, does not serve our na­tional in­ter­est,” Kim said.

The end of the Gen­eral Se­cu­rity of Mil­i­tary In­for­ma­tion Agree­ment brings Seoul-tokyo re­la­tions to an­other low point, with many South Kore­ans boy­cotting Ja­panese goods and trips there dur­ing the pair’s worst squab­ble in years.

Seoul’s de­ci­sion was “un­be­liev­able,” a Ja­panese defense min­istry of­fi­cial said, while an­other Ja­panese of­fi­cial noted the im­pact would be “lim­ited,” ac­cord­ing to broad­caster NHK.

South Korea and Ja­pan are both democ­ra­cies and mar­ket economies with strong ties to the US. But their bi­lat­eral re­la­tions con­tinue to be heav­ily affected by Ja­pan’s colo­nial rule of the Korean Penin­sula from 1910 to 1945.

The row has alarmed Wash­ing­ton and US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo held tri­lat­eral talks with his Ja­panese and South Korean coun­ter­parts this month in Bangkok, Thai­land.

How­ever, the brief meet­ing ap­peared to have been frosty as the trio – with Pom­peo in the mid­dle – did not speak or shake hands when they posed for pho­tos af­ter­ward.

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