South Korea yesterday said it will scrap an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, a decision that could further escalate a dispute over history and trade and undercut security cooperation on North Korea.
With the decision not to extend the pact, the political and trade disputes between South Korea and Japan now extend into some of the most sensitive national security issues in the region.
The arrangement was designed to share sensitive information on the threat posed by North Korea’s missile and nuclear activities, and the decision to end it comes after North Korea launched a series of short-range ballistic missiles in protest against what it sees as military build-ups in South Korea and Japan.
The General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) was due to be automatically renewed on Saturday, unless either side decided to cancel it.
The decision was announced after an hour-long discussion within the presidential National Security Council (NSC). South Korean President Moon Jae-in approved it.
Japan cited security concerns without providing specific evidence for its decision on South Korea’s trade status.
“Under this situation, we have determined that it would not serve our national interest to maintain an agreement we signed with the aim of exchanging military information which is sensitive to security,” Kim told a news conference.
South Korea would deliver a formal notice to Japan within the due date, Kim said.
There was no immediate response from Tokyo, but Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said before the announcement that the deal bolstered security cooperation between the two countries.
This week the foreign ministers of the two countries met outside Beijing and promised to keep talking, but failed to reach any substantive agreements.
Prior to signing the agreement in 2016, under US pressure, South Korea and Japan shared intelligence through the United States.