South Korea and Japan prepare to sign GSOMIA this week

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South Korea and Japan prepare to sign GSOMIA this week

Seoul and Tokyo will sign a sensitive bilateral military intelligence-sharing pact as early as Wednesday, Korea’s Ministry of National Defense announced Monday.

“Following the preliminary signing of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) on Nov. 14, the government is undergoing domestic procedures on the agreement,” said the Defense Ministry spokesman, Moon Sang-gyun, during a briefing in Seoul. “If it is passed as a bill in the National Assembly as planned, it will be approved by the president and officially signed.”

The signing will take place between Minister of National Defense Han Min-koo and Japanese Ambassador to Korea Yasumasa Nagamine.

Korea announced it will resume negotiations for a GSOMIA with Japan on Oct. 27 for the first time in four years. The two countries were close to sealing a deal in 2012, but failed due to protests against the secretive nature of the negotiations and ongoing bilateral mistrust over unresolved historical and territorial disputes with Japan. “Since the two governments already drafted an agreement in 2012,” a defense official here said, “the negotiations did not take long.”

As a result of the deal, Korea is expected to gain access to military intelligence from Japan’s reconnaissance satellites, Aegis-equipped destroyers and maritime patrol aircraft. Japan, in turn, may benefit from Korea’s human intelligence. Korea and Japan have been in a trilateral military intelligence-sharing pact, with Washington as an intermediary, since December 2014.

Opposition parties, however, strongly protested the deal with Japan, which comes amid the influence-peddling scandal involving the president’s close friend, Choi Soon-sil. But defense officials defended the rush to push through the pact, arguing that a domestic political crisis should not interfere with national security matters. The three opposition parties are planning to raise a parliamentary motion to force Defense Minister Han to step down for pushing through the agreement.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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