South Korea endorses military intelligence pact with Japan

Seoul, Nov 22 (IANS) The South Korean cabinet on Tuesday endorsed a bilateral military intelligence pact with Japan amid public and parliamentary opposition.

Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, Yoo Il-ho, chaired the meeting that approved the pact to directly exchange military intelligence on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)’s nuclear and missile programs.

The signing ceremony of the pact — the General Security of the Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), is scheduled to be held in Seoul on Wednesday, Xinhua news reported.

With the presidential ratification expected later Tuesday, South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo and Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Yasumasa Nagamine would formally seal the pact.

GSOMIA will go into effect immediately after the signing.

If realized, the two countries would reach an agreement less than a month after resuming talks on the pact.

South Korea has hurriedly pushed the accord as part of efforts to find a breakthrough by regaining support from conservative voters sensitive to security issues.

Seoul and Tokyo held the first working-level dialogue earlier in November.

It was initially supposed to be presided over by President Park Geun-hye, but the president did not appear at the meeting due to growing public fury over the scandal involving Park and her long-time confidante, Choi Soon-sil.

Prosecutors had identified Park as a criminal accomplice to Choi in many of criminal acts.

Public objections to the pact were also strong. At least 59 per cent opposed the deal.

Japan has reportedly remained unrepentant of its brutalities during World War II. The Korean Peninsula was colonised by Japan from 1910 to 1945.