Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Japan Signs Long-Delayed Military Secrets Pact With S. Korea

  • Accord comes after four-year hiatus amid warming relations
  • Nations had been sharing military intelligence via U.S.

Japan and South Korea signed a military intelligence-sharing accord in Seoul on Wednesday, less than a month after restarting negotiations following a four-year hiatus.

Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Fumio Kishida told a news conference in Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan later the same day that security cooperation between the two nations had become more urgent amid the growing threat from North Korea’s nuclear program.

South Korea had in 2012 postponed signing an agreement, approved by the leaders of both countries, just hours before a scheduled ceremony amid disputes over claims to a group of islands and compensation for South Korean women trafficked to Japanese Imperial Army brothels across Asia before and during World War II. Activist groups in Seoul had condemned the pact as amounting to a South Korean pardon of Japan for its past conduct.

The new accord, announced by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will allow direct sharing of military intelligence, which previously had to be done via the U.S. under a three-way pact reached in 2014.

Relations between South Korea and its former colonizer have warmed since Japan agreed late last year to provide 1 billion yen ($9 million) to so-called comfort women.

The two nations, which are each other’s third-biggest trading partners, face a common threat from an increasingly provocative North Korea, which conducted its fifth nuclear test in September as part of the isolated regime’s efforts to accelerate the development of nuclear weapons.

— With assistance by Isabel Reynolds

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