SEOUL — South Korea will reconsider the termination of the military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, called the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), if Japan scraps export curbs, Seoul’s defense ministry said Thursday.
Choi Hyun-soo, defense ministry spokesperson, told a press briefing that there has been no change in South Korea’s position that the country will review various measures, including the GSOMIA, if Japan withdraws its unfair, retaliatory measures, and if friendly relations between Seoul and Tokyo are restored.
Asked about US officials recently calling for the renewal of the Seoul-Tokyo military accord, the spokesperson said the calls were seen as an emphasis for the importance of cooperation among the friendly countries.
The comments came ahead of the scheduled termination on Nov 23 of the GSOMIA, which was signed in November 2016 by South Korea and Japan to share military intelligence.
South Korea decided in August to scrap the military accord in response to Japan’s tightened regulations in July over its export to South Korea of three materials, vital to produce memory chips and display panels that are the mainstay of the South Korean export.
Japan’s export curbs came in an apparent protest against the South Korean top court’s rulings that ordered some of Japanese companies to pay reparation to the South Korean victims who were forced into hard labor without pay during the 1910-45 Japanese colonization of the Korean Peninsula.
In August, Japan dropped South Korea off its whitelist of trusted trading partners that are given preferential export procedure. In response, Seoul removed Tokyo from its whitelist of trusted export partners.
Meanwhile, South Korea and Japan were in the final stage of discussions to hold a meeting of defense ministers on the sidelines of the sixth Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus), according to Yonhap news agency report citing the Seoul defense ministry.
South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo was scheduled to attend the regional defense ministers’ dialogue, slated to be held in Bangkok, Thailand for Nov 17-18.
It was expected to bring together top-level military officials from ASEAN countries and eight other member countries, including China, Japan, South Korea, the United States, Russia, Australia, New Zealand and India.
The ADMM-Plus, launched in 2010, had been held every two or three years. Since last year, it turned into an annual security event.
According to Yonhap, the trilateral meeting among the South Korean defense chief, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono was known to be confirmed.
Asked about the US defense chief’s comment to adjust the South Korea-US joint military exercises for the dialogue with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the spokesperson of the Seoul defense ministry said the military authorities of Seoul and Washington adhered to a position of supporting diplomatic efforts for the complete denuclearization of and the lasting peace settlement in the Korean Peninsula.
The spokesperson said Esper's comments were believed to be within the context of the US “flexible approach” to the denuclearization negotiations with the DPRK.
Esper was scheduled to hold the annual South Korea-US defense ministers’ talks, called the Security Consultative Meeting (SCM), with his South Korean counterpart in Seoul on Friday.
HONG KONG NEWS