We need the pact with Japan

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We need the pact with Japan

The recent military-information protection deal between Korea and Japan is creating a stir after the government passed it in a closed-door cabinet meeting without consulting the National Assembly. If the pact passes in Japan’s cabinet meeting, it is also expected to be signed here quickly. But it is regrettable that the first military pact between Seoul and Tokyo is embroiled in controversy for its hastiness.

An accord for military-information protection with Japan is necessary given the ever-growing threat from the North. After declaring its nuclear power status in the Constitution, Pyongyang could launch a nuclear test and missile attack against the South at any time. The more quality information we have about the North, the better our security. Japan’s intelligence capability is rated more advanced than ours. So far, our government has indirectly exchanged military information with Japan via the United States, but had trouble responding to the North’s provocations. Once the pact is concluded, it will reinforce our intelligence capabilities substantially.

The way our government dealt with the issue is disappointing. It skipped the process of explaining why we need Japan’s help. Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin vowed to do so a month ago, but didn’t. We wonder why the government omitted a deputy ministerial-level meeting and put a stamp on the deal at a cabinet meeting while the president was on a trip overseas. That invites strong suspicion that the government has yielded to pressure from Washington. If the administration decided to detour the process for fear of a strong backlash, it should be blamed for doing business in a shady fashion.

The government made arrangements with 24 countries, including Russia, for military-information protection. It says it struck the deal with Japan according to its own judgment. But it is our judgment that our security issue must be separated from the discord over Japan’s wartime crimes or the Dokdo islets.

Security experts worry that the military deal with Japan may advance a three-way security alliance with Korea, the U.S. and Japan as Washington hopes, which may lead to a Cold War conflict paradigm of the Seoul-Washington-Tokyo axis against Pyongyang-Beijing-Moscow. The government must draw the line with arguments that the military accord is solely confined to the exchange of military information on a practical level.

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