Seoul cancels military intelligence sharing agreement with Tokyo

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (VOP TODAY NEWS) — South Korea said Thursday it would scrap a military intelligence exchange deal with Japan amid diplomatic and trade disputes between the two allies.

Kim Yoo-gwen, the first deputy director of the South Korean National Security Office, said Seoul had “decided to terminate” the agreement known as the “General Security and Military Information Agreement.”

“We will inform the Japanese government through a diplomatic channel,” he said.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said in a statement that Japan would “strongly protest” the Seoul decision, describing the move as “very unfortunate.”

“I must say that the decision to terminate this charter by the South Korean government is a grave mistake in assessing the regional security situation and it is very unfortunate.”

“We cannot accept the South Korean side’s assurances and we will file a protest with the South Korean government,” Kono said.

Japan and South Korea have exchanged trade sanctions in the context of rising tensions between the two countries over deep historical differences related to the Japanese colonization of the Korean Peninsula (1910-1945).

On August 2, Japan decided to remove South Korea from a list of countries benefiting from privileged treatment, angering Seoul, which has threatened to scrap the exchange of information.

The South Korean spokesman said Thursday that Japan had taken the decision “without providing clear justifications,” stressing that “maintaining the agreement (on the exchange of information) signed to exchange sensitive military information does not serve the national interest” of the country.

In early July, Tokyo announced it would stop shipping vehicles used by major companies such as Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix in the chip and smartphone industry.

Japan’s decisions were made after South Korean courts demanded Japanese companies pay compensation to South Koreans because they forced them to work in their factories during the Japanese occupation that lasted until the end of World War II.

The row between Tokyo and Seoul is a problem for Washington, which relies on cooperation to bolster its policy in a region tense over North Korea’s nuclear threat and China’s rise.

The military information exchange agreement was signed in November 2016 under the auspices of Washington in an atmosphere of heightened tension over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic programs.

The agreement aims to better coordinate the collection of information about the North Korean regime and its activities.

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