S.Korea to end military intel-sharing pact with Japan

Seoul: South Korea’s presidential palace on Thursday decided to scrap the military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan amid the trade spat between the two countries.

Kim Hyun-chong, Deputy Director of the National Security Office (NSO) of the Blue House, told a press briefing that the government decided to end the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), saying it would notify the Japanese government of its decision through diplomatic channels.

South Korea and Japan signed the GOSMIA in November 2016 to share military intelligence on nuclear and missile programmes of North Korea.

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The GSOMIA had been automatically renewed each year in August. If either party wants to scrap the pact, the party will be required to notify the other of its intention 90 days ahead. This year’s notification deadline falls on August 24.

Kim said the Japanese government removed South Korea from its whitelist citing a security problem caused by the damaged trust between the two countries, noting that the removal caused a “grave change” in security cooperation between the two sides, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Blue House official said the government came to a conclusion that it does not serve national interests to keep exchanging sensitive military information with Japan.

The decision was made amid the rising trade dispute between Seoul and Tokyo following Japan’s tightened control in July on its export to South Korea of three materials vital to produce memory chips and display panels, which are the mainstay of the South Korean export.

Earlier in August, Japan dropped South Korea off its whitelist of trusted trading partners that are given preferential export procedure. In response, Seoul took Tokyo off its whitelist of trusted export partners.

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