See More on Facebook

Diplomacy, Economics

S. Korea open to settling spat with Japan over intel-sharing pact if relations improve

Intelligence sharing has been suspended since an economic spat between the two countries erupted several months ago.

Written by

Updated: November 11, 2019

President Moon Jae-in’s top security adviser reaffirmed Sunday that South Korea’s bilateral military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan could be renewed, as the expiration date draws near.

Chung Eui-yong, chief of Cheong Wa Dae’s National Security Office, laid the blame on Japan for the strained relations, which have sunk to their lowest point in decades.

“The government is willing to rethink an extension of the GSOMIA if South Korea-Japan relations normalize,” he said during a press briefing on Sunday, referring to the General Security of Military Information Agreement. The agreement drawn up in 2016 is renewed each year.

Chung said a termination of GSOMIA would have a limited impact on national security, as the bilateral exchange of military spy information will not be completely obstructed.

“I think the people will understand that (the government) cannot decide to extend the GSOMIA under current circumstances when Japan implemented export restrictions, citing that it has lost trust (toward Korea) in security cooperation,” he said.

The two Asian countries have not budged an inch on their respective positions regarding the renewal of the agreement, in order to gain the upper hand in their diplomatic and historical disputes.

Washington is seen as pressuring Seoul to maintain the defense pact for trilateral coordination among Seoul, Washington and Tokyo as it affects US security interests in the region in the face of North Korean military threats and China’s increasing assertiveness.

The South Korean government gave Tokyo the required three months’ notice on Aug. 23 that it would not renew the two countries’ military pact. The agreement is due to expire Nov. 23.

South Korea has maintained that it will consider reversing its decision to terminate the agreement only if Japan retracts its export restrictions on high-tech exports to South Korea and its decision to remove South Korea from its whitelist of trusted trading partners. The moves are seen as retaliation against South Korean Supreme Court rulings last year that ordered Japanese companies to pay compensations to South Korean victims of forced labor during Japan’s colonial rule over the Korean peninsula.

Seoul and Tokyo are taking different approaches on the GSOMIA issue and it appears to be hard for them to make concessions without a stronger justification than Washington’s pressure to keep the pact alive, said Lee Won-deog, a professor of Japanese studies at Kookmin University.

“The South Korean government wants to exchange the renewal of the GSOMIA with withdrawal of Japan’s trade curbs but what Japan wants is a resolution of the forced labor issue,” he said.

In recent weeks, the US and Japan have stressed the growing security challenges that the East Asian region faces.

The US Pentagon mentioned countering North Korea and other countries including China, Russia and Iran in a report released Nov. 4, calling this one of the top 10 challenges the US faces in 2020.

“North Korea also presents a dangerous threat to the United States and its allies. … North Korea may already be able to launch a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the United States,” the report read.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who will travel to Seoul on Thursday, will also discuss the Seoul-Tokyo defense pact during his visit.

“It’s something that we would like to see resolved, so that all of us can focus on the biggest threats in the region, which is North Korea’s activities and then, the Chinese efforts to destabilize the region,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said during a briefing Thursday.

Esper is likely to discuss potential solutions for the fate of GSOMIA while attending the US-South Korea Security Consultative Meeting, which will take place Friday.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga asserted that Japan’s export restrictions and GSOMIA are two separate issues of different dimensions.

He said South Korea’s decision to end the pact “completely misjudges the region’s security landscape and is extremely disappointing.”

The two countries could make a last-ditch effort on the occasion of upcoming ministerial-level events set to take place before GSOMIA expires.

Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and his Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono, are reportedly considering a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting, which will take place in Thailand on Nov. 18.

Foreign Minister Kang and her Japanese counterpart, Toshimitsu Motegi, also may hold face-to-face talks on the issue on the margins of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Nagoya on Nov. 22 and 23.

Enjoyed this story? Share it.

The Korea Herald
About the Author: The Korea Herald is the nation’s largest English-language daily and the country’s sole member of the Asia News Network.

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-US trade deal bullish news for both countries, rest of world

From Chinese state media. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Saturday that the China-US deal on the text of a phase-one economic and trade agreement serves as bullish news for both countries and the rest of the world. Speaking at a joint press conference with Slovenian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Miro Cerar, Wang said China has, as always, been opposed to settling economic and trade disputes by imposing tariffs as there is no winner in a trade war. China has also rejected the use of unilateral pressure as it violates the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), said Wang. He pointed out that following rounds of back-and-forth negotiations, China and the United States have agreed on the wording of a phase-one economic and trade agreement, and the US side has promised to phase out additional tariffs on Chinese products. The agreement demonstrates the spirit

By China Daily
December 16, 2019

Diplomacy, Economics

Biegun arrives in Seoul amid deadlock in NK-US nuclear talks

Pyongyang says it conducted “another crucial test” at Sohae site. US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun arrived in Seoul on Sunday for a “close coordination” with allies amid the deadlock in the denuclearization talks with Pyongyang just weeks before the communist regime’s year-end deadline. A day before, North Korea issued statements to announce that it had carried out “another crucial test” at a satellite launching site, warning the United States to “hold off” any action to “rattle” the regime. During his three-day trip here, the US special envoy is expected to meet with officials here to discuss on the

By The Korea Herald
December 16, 2019

Diplomacy, Economics

Myanmar to be sincere in implementing Rohingya repatriation deal

This according to the Bangladeshi Foreign Minister. Bangladesh expects that Myanmar would be more tolerant towards Rohingyas after facing trial at the International Court of Justice, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said today. “My expectation is that Myanmar would be sincere in implementing the bilateral deal that signed with Bangladesh on repatriating Rohingyas from Bangladesh,” he told journalists at his ministry office in Dhaka. “Myanmar has invited me before a case lodged with the International Court of Justice. In response, I told that I would go there when the Rohingyas will go back to Myanmar,” the foreign minister said. “I also invited Myanmar to visit Bangladesh to talk to their Rohingya people and to understand their expectations,” Momen said. Globally it has been established that there was a massive crime committed against the Rohingyas, that was des

By Daily Star
December 16, 2019

Diplomacy, Economics

10 US senators criticise Suu Kyi for representing military’s interest

Suu Kyi is in the Hague defending Myanmar from genocide accusations. Ten US Senators have severely criticized Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi for representing the military’s interest before the International Court of Justice and defending the mass atrocities committed against the Rohingyas and other ethnic minorities. “Representing the Burmese military’s interest before The Hague and defending the mass atrocities committed against the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities would undermine what remaining credibility you have before the international community, including in the US Congress,” said a letter to Suu Kyi issued on December 9. The Senators said a defense of the Burmese military at this high-profile international forum is also an affront to the inclusive, multi-cultural and democratic Burma that she claims to champion. They said when Buddhist nationalism is on the rise in

By Daily Star
December 13, 2019

Diplomacy, Economics

India under Modi is moving systematically with a supremacist agenda, says PM Imran

Imran Khan made the comments after India passed a controversial citizenship requirement. Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday that India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been moving systematically with a Hindu supremacist agenda. The prime minister was referencing the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill passed by India’s upper house amid protests on Wednesday. The bill will let the Indian government grant citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants who entered India from three neighbouring countries before 2015 — but not if they are Muslim. Modi’s government — re-elected in May and under pressure over a slowing economy — says Muslims from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan are excluded from the legislation because they do not face discrimination in those countries. Taking to Twitter, Prime Minister I

By Dawn
December 13, 2019

Diplomacy, Economics

China, US in constant touch to resolve trade issues

China and the United States are in constant touch to resolve pending trade and economic issues, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday. The comment came ahead of Sunday’s US deadline for another scheduled round of tariff increases on Chinese imports worth almost $160 billion. If a trade deal is not struck by Sunday, computer monitors and toys will be among the Chinese export items likely to be affected. Gao Feng, a ministry spokesman, said the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council has already worked out tariff exemptions on some soybean, pork and other products shipped from the US — the latest sign of tensions easing in the protracted trade conflict. The US seems to resort to brinkmanship by using a tariff deadline to pressure China in the ongoing trade talks for a phase one, preliminary deal, said Chen Wenling, chief economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges

By China Daily
December 13, 2019