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South Korea to pull out of intel-sharing agreement with Japan

Tensions between South Korea and Japan escalate as former withdraws from bilateral pact
Tensions between South Korea and Japan escalate as former withdraws from bilateral pact

South Korea has decided to pull out of an intelligence sharing agreement with Japan, a move that can potentially escalate a decades-old dispute between the two countries.

South Korea has avowed that it will scrap the intelligence sharing pact with Japan, raising security concerns regarding North Korea. The move comes after Japan scrapped South Korea’s preferential trade status last month.

South Korea’s deputy director of the presidential National Security Council, Kim You-geun, asserted that Japan had brought in effect a “grave change” in bilateral security cooperation by changing the export status of South Korea. “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 added. Tokyo had set restrictions on exports of semiconductor materials, which is considered to be an indispensable part of South Korea’s tech industry.

The General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) was signed by Japan and South Korea in 2016. As part of the agreement, Japan and South Korea were also supposed to share information regarding North Korea’s missile and nuclear programme. The GSOMIA was due for renewal on Saturday.

Japan’s defence minister, Takeshi Iwaya slammed South Korea and said that the latter has failed to perceive the threat posed by North Korea. “North Korea’s repeated missile tests threaten national security and cooperating between Japan and South Korea and with the US is crucial,” Iwaya averred. “We strongly urge them to make a wise decision,” he added.

Meanwhile, the US has expressed disappointment over the move. “We’re disappointed to see the decision the South Koreans made about that information-sharing agreement. We’re urging each of the two countries to continue to engage,” US Secretary of state Mike Pompeo said.

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