South Korean cabinet approves closer intelligence cooperation with Japan

South KoreaIn a move that highlights the thaw in relations between South Korea and Japan, the two nations appear to be closer than ever to entering an intelligence agreement with each other. In 2014, Washington, Seoul and Tokyo signed a trilateral intelligence-sharing agreement on regional security issues, with the United States acting as an intermediary. But a proposed new agreement between South Korea and Japan would remove the US from the equation and would facilitate direct intelligence-sharing between the two East Asian nations for the first time in history.

The proposed treaty is known as the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA). Its centerpiece is a proposal to streamline the rapid exchange of intelligence between South Korean and Japanese spy agencies, especially in times of regional crisis involving North Korea. Last week, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense publicly gave GSOMIA its blessing by stating that Seoul’s security would benefit from access to intelligence from Japanese satellite reconnaissance as well as from submarine activity in the South Sea. On Monday, South Korea’s Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, Yoo Il-ho, announced after a cabinet meeting that GSOMIA had been officially approved by the government.

The agreement is surprising, given the extremely tense history of Korean-Japanese relations. Japan conquered the Korean Peninsula for most of the first half of the 20th century, facing stiff resistance from local guerrilla groups. After the end of World War II and Japan’s capitulation, South Korea has sought reparations from Tokyo. In 2014, after many decades of pressure, Japan struck a formal agreement with South Korea over the plight of the so-called “comfort women”, thousands of South Korean women and girls who were forced into prostitution by the Japanese imperial forces during World War II. Relations between the two regional rivals have improved steadily since that time.

The GSOMIA agreement will now be forwarded to officials in the South Korean Ministry of National Defense. The country’s defense minister is expected to sign it during a meeting with the Japanese ambassador to South Korea in Seoul on Wednesday, local news media reported.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 22 November 2016 | Permalink

4 Responses to South Korean cabinet approves closer intelligence cooperation with Japan

  1. Jones says:

    Given tenuous status of Park Geun-hye administration and rising public cries for her impeachment, her premature ouster could have huge geopolitical consequences within Asian region. The (GSOMIA) treaty may be challenged by next South Korean administration. – Not to mention uncertainty in international policies (directly affecting Asia region) and USA priorities given a new Trump administration. Also, North Korea may perceive political weakness and become more aggressive in posturing and demands.

  2. intelNews says:

    @Jones: Well said. It appears that most South Koreans are either indifferent or outright dismissive of the GSOMIA treaty. According to this UPI report, “31 percent of South Koreans are in favor of the deal, while 59 percent said they do not want to strengthen military cooperation with Japan.” [IA]

  3. Jones says:

    Yes, I concur. Unfortunately, ancient/current unresolved rivalries between South Korea and Japan persist which only creates more political fodder which can be exploited.

    Appreciate your excellent, insightful articles /reporting on subject matters pertaining to intelligence.

  4. Jones says:

    According to recent article in The Japan Times, Japan has temporally recalled their ambassador and envoys in protest of South Koreans reluctance to remove a ‘comfort women’ statue in Busan.

    Scandals surrounding South Korean President Park Geun-hye are affecting her ability to make politically tough compromises with Japan. – given increased spread of nationalism. Failure to work with Japan may lead to a break down in military and intelligence sharing agreements in-part designed to cope with threats from North Korea.

    North Korean leader has increased his saber rattling rhetoric and threats to conduct further test concerning ICBM cable to carrying nuclear war head(s). Historically, current nuclear powers have been able to achieve successful launches of nuclear capable missiles after 5 attempts.

    Perhaps “if” Ban Ki-moon were to become next President of South Korea he could use his extensive diplomatic skills to repair the damaged relationship between South Korea and Japan and avoid further destabilization within the region.

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