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S Korea, Japan sign intelligence deal despite China criticism

Japan and South Korea on Wednesday signed an agreement to share defence intelligence about North Korea, despite protests from opposition parties and activists in Seoul and strong criticism from China.

South Korea’s defence ministry said the accord was necessary in the face of growing military threats from Pyongyang, which has conducted two nuclear tests and more than 20 missile launches this year. “It is ready to conduct additional nuclear tests and missile launches at any time,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Since we can now utilise Japan’s intelligence capability to effectively deal with North Korea’s escalating nuclear and missile threats, it will enhance our security interests.” Japan’s foreign ministry said the military agreement would allow the two governments to “share information even more smoothly and swiftly”.

But China, already angry at South Korea’s planned deployment of a US missile defence system, sharply criticised Seoul and Tokyo for what it termed a “cold war mentality”. The agreement “will aggravate the situation in the Korean peninsula and bring new unsecure and unstable factors to Northeast Asia,” said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang at a regular briefing in Beijing.

“While conducting military cooperation, relevant countries should respect the security concerns of regional countries and do more things for peace and development, not the opposite,” Shuang said.

China says Seoul’s earlier decision to deploy the THAAD missile defence system will increase the risk of military conflict in the region.

Seoul and Tokyo currently use their mutual ally Washington as an intermediary when sharing military intelligence on Pyongyang, under a deal signed in 2014. 

The new intelligence-sharing agreement is also controversial in South Korea, where memories of Japan’s harsh 1910-45 colonial rule still mar relations with Tokyo.

South Korea and Japan were on the verge of signing an intelligence-sharing deal in June 2012, but Seoul backtracked at the last minute in response to a public outcry. Noting Tokyo’s surveillance assets and location, South Korea’s defence ministry said the deal would be a “big help” in better analysing Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes and collecting more intelligence about its ballistic missiles.

North Korea has slammed the military pact, labelling it as “a dangerous act” that would further raise already-high tensions on the Korean peninsula and open a door to Japan’s “re-invasion”. 

Miliatry Boost
  • South Korea’s defence ministry has termed the accord as necessary in the face of growing military threats from Pyongyang, which has conducted two nuclear tests and more than 20 missile launches this year
  • China has slammed Seoul and Tokyo, calls it ‘cold war mentality’; says agreement “will aggravate the situation in the Korean peninsula and bring new unsecure and unstable factors to Northeast Asia”
  • China says Seoul’s decision to deploy THAAD missile defence system will increase the risk of military conflict in the region
  • At present, Seoul and Tokyo use their mutual ally Washington as an intermediary when sharing military intelligence on Pyongyang, under a deal signed in 2014
  • North Korea has slammed the pact, calling it ‘a dangerous act’ that would further raise already-high tensions on the Korean peninsula and open a door to Japan’s “re-invasion”
Agencies

Agencies

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