See More on Facebook

Diplomacy, Economics

S. Korea hints at cutting defense cooperation with Japan

Seoul has been backed into a corner and the Moon administration has little options available.


Written by

Updated: August 2, 2019

Seoul will be forced to reconsider its security cooperation with Tokyo, should Japan take further trade-curbing measures, South Korea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha said Thursday.

According to Seoul’s Foreign Ministry, Kang gave the warning during her meeting with her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono in Bangkok, on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum.

“If the decision (to remove South Korea from the trade whitelist) is made at tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting, we will have to draw up necessary response measures,” Kang said after the meeting. She is also reported to have stressed that the two sides should take time to resolve the issue diplomatically.

“(As) Japan’s trade restrictions were taken citing security reasons, we will have to review the South Korea-Japan security (cooperation) structure.”

Early last month, Japan removed South Korea from the list of countries that receive preferential treatment in importing a number of key industrial materials, inciting strong protests from Seoul. Despite the protests, including taking the matter to the World Trade Organization, Tokyo has dug in for a protracted trade spat, proposing removing South Korea from its whitelist of preferred trading partners.

The move, which is likely to be decided on Friday, will result in Japanese firms exporting to South Korea requiring government approval on individual shipments.

While Kang did not elaborate, the comments have been interpreted as referring to the possibility of ending the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Japan. The agreement, signed in 2016, is automatically renewed every year unless either side objects. Following Japan’s decision to impose trade restricting measures, ending the GSOMIA has been raised as a possible retaliatory measure.

According to an official with Seoul’s Foreign Ministry, Kang “strongly conveyed” the message that bilateral relations will deteriorate should Japan remove South Korea from the whitelist.

“(Kang) pointed out that unlike Japan’s claims, the trade restrictions are linked to the forced labor rulings, and therefore removal from the whitelist should not be proceeded with,” the official said, saying that the two sides had “significant” differences.

In removing preferential treatment for South Korea-bound exports of semiconductor-related materials last month, Japanese officials alleged that Seoul had failed to enforce international trade restrictions on North Korea.

Seoul, however, refuted the claims and interpreted the measures as being retribution for South Korea’s Supreme Court’s ruling siding with those forced into working for Japanese firms during Japan’s occupation of the peninsula.

The court ruled on a number of cases that the victims’ rights to claim compensations remain valid, and ordered liquidation of concerned Japanese firms’ assets.

In addition to Kang’s meeting with Kono, the South Korean National Assembly’s delegation to Tokyo looks likely to return empty handed.

Toshihiro Nikai, secretary-general of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, canceled a meeting with South Korea’s 10-member National Assembly delegation in Tokyo in the last minute.

Toshihiro Nikai pulled out of the meeting on Thursday morning for the second time following the cancellation on Wednesday evening, citing an urgent party meeting.

“We were supposed to meet Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai yesterday. It was postponed to this morning, but fell through. This is discourtesy and they broke the rules again,” said delegation member Rep. Kang Chang-il of the Democratic Party.

The meeting had been arranged in hopes of settling Japan’s latest trade restrictions.

Casting a dim outlook, Kang added “A visit by members of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party has been canceled. Based on this, it seems like (Japan) has a strong desire to push forward (with excluding South Korea from the whitelist).”

Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, who is chairman of the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee and is also in Tokyo, interpreted the last-minute cancellation as a “fait accompli” that Japan will remove South Korea from its whitelist.

“Given the situation, it must have been uncomfortable for Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai to meet us,” Yoon said.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


About the Author: ANN’s Board member Mr Zaffar Abbas, Editor of Pakistan’s Dawn has won the 2019 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protest Journalists.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy, Economics

China pledges international pandemic aid

 Producers of medical goods urged to meet demand from affected countries. China has pledged to do its best to offer aid to countries and international organisations affected by COVID-19 to help contain the outbreak, and businesses are being urged to boost production of epidemic prevention materials to meet demand from abroad. The announcement was made at a meeting of the leading group of China’s coronavirus response, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday. Relevant departments and local authorities must step up co-ordination to closely monitor and analyse the quick spread of the outbreak outside China and roll out more targeted measures to prevent the import and export of infection, the group said in a statement. It is important to further


By China Daily
March 13, 2020

Diplomacy, Economics

Back to work in Beijing, with tough measures in place

 Mandatory quarantine for those coming from overseas; some Wuhan businesses may reopen. As most of China attempts to return to normalcy after an extensive lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the capital Beijing has been carefully trying to strike a balance between having people restart work while also trying to keep out imported infections, and yesterday ordered a mandatory quarantine for all international arrivals. This comes as the Hubei government announced that some businesses in Wuhan, the outbreak’s epicentre, would gradually be allowed to reopen. On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan, his first visit to the city since the outbreak, a sign that the crisis could finally be easing after the government’s toug


By The Straits Times
March 12, 2020

Diplomacy, Economics

Xi vows victory over coronavirus in Wuhan

President expresses condolences to families of people who died in epidemic. President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday that prevention and control of the novel coronavirus outbreak remains the top priority and most important task, even amid the recent positive signs. Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remark during his inspection tour in the outbreak’s epicentre, Wuhan, capital of Hubei province. The spread of the novel coronavirus has been basically curbed in Hubei and Wuhan, Xi said, adding that initial success has been made in stabilising the situation and turning the tide in Hubei and Wuhan. Xi encouraged local residents and front-line worke


By China Daily
March 11, 2020

Diplomacy, Economics

China sets example in fighting virus

Epidemic reveals inadequacies in global governance; Beijing says it’s ready to help. China’s response to novel coronavirus pneumonia has set an example for the world in coping with the contagion and offered experience in advancing global public health governance, officials and experts said. The COVID-19 outbreak has also raised the alarm about global public health security and reminded countries that co-operation and co-ordination are needed to deal with challenges as infectious diseases can rapidly escalate into global emergencies, they said. There is a growing positive momentum in epidemic control nationwide thanks to the “comprehensive, thorough and rigorous” measures that China has taken to contain the virus, they said, noting that the daily


By China Daily
March 10, 2020

Diplomacy, Economics

More than 800,000 people return Beijing under quarantine

“There’s still a risk of an outbreak of the disease with people coming to Beijing from other cities and countries,” Zhang Tongjun, deputy head of a group for prevention and control work in the city’s residential communities, said during an afternoon conference. About 827,000 people who came back to Beijing from outside the city are still in a 14-day quarantine to see if they had been infected with the novel coronavirus, an official said on Friday. “There’s still a risk of an outbreak of the disease with people coming to Beijing from other cities and countries,” Zhang Tongjun, deputy head of a group for prevention and control work in the city’s residential communities, said during an afternoon conference. Z


By China Daily
March 9, 2020

Diplomacy, Economics

South Korea declares third city as special care zone as cases spike

President Moon receives letter of support from North Korean leader as infected cases cross 6,000. South Korea has declared a third city a “special care zone” to boost its capability to fight a spike in coronavirus infections, with cases nationwide soaring beyond 6,000. The death toll stands at 42, mostly the elderly with underlying health conditions, while 88 people have recovered, including 47 discharged yesterday. The care zone announcement came as the presidential Blue House revealed that South Korean President Moon Jae-in received a letter on Wednesday from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressing support and comfort to the people battling the coronavirus outbreak, adding that he is confident they will “prevail in this fight wit


By The Straits Times
March 6, 2020