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(LEAD) S. Korea fully restores bilateral military information-sharing pact with Japan

16:31 March 21, 2023

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; UPDATES with more info throughout; ADDS byline)
By Yi Wonju

SEOUL, March 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Tuesday fully restored its military intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo, the foreign ministry said, as part of efforts to thaw long-frozen ties following a recent bilateral summit.

South Korea sent an official letter to Japan earlier in the day via diplomatic channels informing of its decision to fully restore the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) between the neighbors, the ministry said.

Signed in 2016, GSOMIA was seen as a rare symbol of security cooperation between Seoul and Tokyo before the former administration of President Moon Jae-in decided to terminate it in 2019 in protest of Japan's export restrictions against South Korea.

The decision to suspend the pact was later put on hold, but the amount of information sharing between the neighboring countries is thought to have been limited, as their relations remained strained over disputes stemming from Japan's colonial rule.

"Through the measure, our government has eliminated policy-related uncertainty regarding GSOMIA, securing a foothold for strengthening cooperation in military information between South Korea and Japan, as well as among South Korea, the U.S. and Japan," the ministry said.

President Yoon Suk Yeol (L) shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the end of their joint news conference after their summit in Tokyo on March 16, 2023. (Yonhap)

A foreign ministry official said the measure was made "in consideration of the reality" that cooperation with Japan and other countries is "necessary to deal with ever-growing nuclear and missile threats from North Korea."

"The defense ministries and other relevant authorities in South Korea and Japan will further accelerate the necessary cooperation whenever the North threatens with nuclear weapons or missiles," he told reporters on the customary condition of anonymity.

Last week, President Yoon Suk Yeol agreed to "completely normalize" GSOMIA during a summit meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to better respond to North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.

Just hours before the two leaders met in Tokyo, Pyongyang test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile that flew about 1,000 kilometers before falling into the open waters off the East Sea.



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