SEOUL--With Pyongyang flexing its muscle, South Korea and Japan have agreed to share military intelligence, sources said.
South Korea's Ministry of National Defense will sign a memorandum of understanding on this with Japan's Self-Defense Forces.
Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin plans to visit Japan, as early as next month, to sign a general security of military information agreement and an acquisition and cross-servicing agreement, both in the form of memorandums of understanding.
Although an MoU is considered a preliminary step before a formal agreement is reached, there is no substantial difference in the way the two levels of agreement are implemented.
This means that Tokyo and Seoul will now fully cooperate on intelligence-sharing against a backdrop of repeated military provocations by North Korea.
Pyongyang ratcheted up international concern with its long-range missile launch April 13 that proved to be a flop.
Under the current setup, Japan and South Korea can share information on North Korea only to a limited extent, although both countries are allied with the United States, the sources said.
The planned general security of military information agreement will likely be especially beneficial to Tokyo because it will allow Japan to share information on North Korea obtained by agents on the ground, which is a strength of South Korea.
An acquisition and cross-servicing agreement will allow both countries to supply fuel and food to each other during U.N. peacekeeping operations and on other occasions.
The U.S. military has long advocated the need for a defense cooperation agreement between Japan and South Korea. Tokyo has also pushed for such an agreement.
In January last year, Toshimi Kitazawa, Japan's defense minister, visited South Korea to meet Kim. Both sides agreed to start negotiations on an acquisition and cross-servicing agreement. They also agreed on the necessity of a general security of military information agreement.
But recurring bilateral disputes over the way each country perceives their shared histories have stood in the way of intergovernmental discussions.
South Korea's defense ministry concluded that too much time could elapse before a formal agreement is signed, and decided to press ahead with defense cooperation in the form of MoUs, which do not require approval of the national assembly.
- « Prev
- Next »