Close military “normalization” between South Korea and Japan | Gulf newspaper
Seoul – AFP
South Korea will fully normalize an important military agreement on sharing intelligence with Japan, a Defense Ministry official said Saturday, amid a diplomatic rapprochement between the two countries in the face of Pyongyang.
During a summit to revive relations Thursday, the two neighbors agreed to turn the page on bitter differences related to forced labor during the war.
South Korean President Yun Sok-yul, keen to end the dispute and show a united front in the face of nuclear North Korea, went to Japan to meet Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, in the first summit between the two countries in 12 years.
According to a report, Yoon told Kishida that he wanted “full normalization” of a 2016 military agreement, known as the “General Security of Military Information Agreement”, that would enable the two US allies to share military secrets, especially about Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile capabilities.
After the summit, the South Korean Foreign Ministry was asked to “continue to take the necessary measures to normalize the agreement,” according to the defense ministry official, who declined to be named.
The Foreign Ministry is expected to send an official letter to its Japanese counterpart soon, according to the official.
Seoul had threatened to cancel the agreement in 2019 following a trade dispute and a historical dispute over Seoul’s 35-year colonial rule on the peninsula.
Hours before its expiration date, South Korea agreed to extend the agreement “conditionally”, but warned that it could be “stopped” at any time.
Faced with the escalation of threats and missile tests by Pyongyang, the two neighbors increasingly sought to end the differences.
The security challenge they faced emerged prior to Yoon’s arrival in Tokyo Thursday, with North Korea announcing a test it said was an intercontinental ballistic missile.
And last year, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared that his country’s status as a “nuclear power” was “irreversible.”