September 19, 2019
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Tokyo asks Seoul to reconsider termination of military intel-sharing pact

Tokyo, Aug 23 (efe-epa).- Japan on Friday lamented the decision by South Korea to pull out of a bilateral military information-sharing agreement and asked it to reconsider its decision.

The decision is "regrettable" in the current security context in the region with repeated missile launches by North Korea — six in less than a month, Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters.

Iwaya said that both countries had exchanged useful information on the incidents involving North Korea on account of the agreement and added that Japan will do everything possible to ensure its safety and security by building on its alliance with the United States.

The Japanese defense minister also highlighted the importance of maintaining cooperation between Tokyo, Seoul and Washington and urged South Korea to reconsider the decision and respond wisely.

Speaking to reporters before departing for the French city of Biarritz to take part in the G7 summit, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe accused South Korea of continuing to undermine relations of mutual trust.

However, Abe added that the termination of the bilateral pact should not have a negative impact on trilateral cooperation with the US while urging South Korea to fulfill its promises.

On Thursday, Seoul announced its decision not to renew the bilateral military information exchange agreement it signed with Tokyo in 2016 and which expires on Aug. 24.

The South Korean government attributed the decision to the "grave change" in the conditions of cooperation between the two countries, which have been locked in a trade and diplomatic crisis after Japan applied restrictions to its exports to South Korea and removed it from its list of countries that benefit from trade privileges.

Seoul, which also adopted similar measures in retaliation, believes that in this context, maintaining the intelligence agreement no longer coincides with its national interests.

The origin of the confrontation, which has caused bilateral relations to deteriorate to their lowest point in recent decades, was a ruling by the South Korean Supreme Court at the end of 2018, that Japanese companies would be forced to pay compensation to Korean citizens or their heirs who were enslaved during the Japanese colonization of the Korean Peninsula. EFE-EPA

mra/pd/tw

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