Korea-Japan military pact draws fire
By Chung Min-uck
The government’s envisioned military accord with Japan is being heavily criticized by the main opposition party and civic groups amid lingering animosity over Japan’s brutal military rule (1910-1945) and its move to become a nuclear power.
Seoul said it will sign the General Security of Military Information Act (GSOMIA) with Tokyo today, which will allow the two nations to share military information including North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. Officials here claim the accord will help strengthen deterrence against the North’s provocations.
It will be the first military accord between the countries since Japan’s colonial rule of Korea ended in 1945.
“We should not give away our classified military information to Japan which intends to go nuclear,” said Park Jie-won, floor leader of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP), Thursday. “People here still have animosity toward Japan’s claim on Dokdo and the issue of comfort women. It should be discussed at the National Assembly before going into effect.”
Japan last week laid legal groundwork for nuclear armament by inserting a clause on a “security guarantee in the use of atomic power” in its nuclear power-related law.
The sovereignty claims over the easternmost islets of Dokdo by Tokyo and its unwillingness to compensate Korean victims who were forced to serve as sexual slaves under its military rule have been a long-running source of diplomatic friction between the two neighboring countries.
Civic groups have added their voice to the opposition of the pact.
“(The South Korean government) has insulted the victims of sexual slavery more than the Japanese,” said the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan in a statement. “It is obvious that the government will sign the logistics sharing agreement as well.”
While pushing for the intelligence agreement, Seoul suspended signing the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), also known as the Mutual Logistic Support Agreement, with Japan, which calls for exchanging the most common types of military support excluding weapons. It is considered more sensitive than GSOMIA as it could allow Japan's troops to enter the South's territory in times of crisis.
However, a government official was quoted as saying by the Yonhap News Agency on Thursday that Seoul plans to go ahead with signing the logistics pact in the near future.
Seoul came under fire Tuesday for approving the intelligence pact behind closed doors.
“The government should stop signing military accords with Japan immediately,” said members of Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea during a press conference in front of the government complex in downtown Seoul. “The pact will seriously hurt the security of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.”
Meanwhile, the United States hailed the envisioned military agreement of its main allies in the region.
“We welcome closer ties between our allies, Japan and the Republic of Korea,” an official of the State Department was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
The United States has long been exerting efforts to bolster military cooperation between the three nations, in an alleged move to cope with China’s rise.
Experts say the Korea-Japan intelligence pact will help the three allies raise efficiency in exchanging military information.
Washington already has the same agreement signed by Japan and South Korea.