Could North Korea bring South Korea and Japan together?
If signed, two proposed military cooperation agreements to deal with North Korea would be the first such agreements between the two nations since Japan’s occupation of Korea in the early 20th century.
Seoul, South Korea
South Korean and Japanese Defense chiefs meeting in Seoul on Monday appear to be working toward strengthening military cooperation between the two nations. The meeting laid the groundwork for the exchange of military supplies and services and the sharing of intelligence, two items deemed essential to countering any future North Korean aggression.Skip to next paragraph
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“The two ministers shared views that North Korea's recent provocations, including the artillery strike on Yeonpyeong Island and the revelation of its uranium enrichment facility, can never be tolerated,” the statement read.
The ministers discussed signing two pacts in the future, the first of which would allow the two nations to share military supplies during peacekeeping and disaster relief operations.The second, the “General Security of Military Information Agreement,” would set up a system for the exchange of military secrets. Seoul and Tokyo have held talks on the creation of the GSMIA in the past, but failed to sign the agreement.
“South Korea has this sort of agreement – in terms of military intelligence sharing – with 21 other countries, but not Japan,” Lee Jung-hoon, professor of international relations at Yonsei University, says.
"There are still some hang-ups in South Korea," he says. Koreans aren't exactly ready for an official alliance with Japan, which still conjures images of the colonial era for many Koreans.
Japan and South Korea warm?
Japan occupied Korea for 35 years as part of its imperialist expansion before World War II. Despite the fact that six decades have past since the end of that colonization, South Korean politicians remain cautious about strengthening their relationship with Japan.
North Korea’s attack on Yeonpyeong Island in November, however, which killed two South Korean soldiers and two civilians, along with its unveiling of a uranium enrichment facility has given new relevance to military cooperation between Tokyo and Seoul.
The agreements would allow South Korea and Japan to fluidly exchange intelligence on North Korea’s weapon programs. If signed, the proposed military cooperation agreements would be the first such agreement between the two nations since Japan’s occupation of Korea.