Barely hours before the formal expiration of military information sharing pact between South Korea and Japan, the South Korean government have retracted its previous stance to discontinue GSOMIA with Japan that had enabled military information sharing against North Korea.
Amid pressure from US that had lobbied for the continuance of GSOMIA between its biggest allies in Asia, resuming GSOMIA have been a crucial issue during US Defence Secretary Mark Esper’s recent visit to Asia.
Under this new development, South Korea can terminate GSOMIA anytime if Japan doesn’t remove the exports curb and revive the status of keeping South Korea in Japan’s whitelist of preferential trading partner. South Korea will also reportedly withhold the complaint made to WTO regarding the exports restrictions of three essential items by Japan to South Korea.
The trade ties between Japan and South Korea had worsened following the demand by the South Korean Supreme Court that had asked for individual compensation for forced labour of South Korean workers during the occupation of South Korea by Japan from 1910 till 1945. Japan had refuted the claim by saying that all war time compensation have been paid during a 1965 agreement.
It is reported that Japan is of the understanding that South Korea have resumed GSOMIA with Japan under the above said condition. Having continued the GSOMIA that would benefit the trilateral relationship of US, South Korea and Japan, South Korea still reserves the right to terminate the military intelligence sharing pact at any time.
On the revival of GSOMIA, the US Embassy spokesperson in South Korea, William M. Coleman, is reported to have said, “The United States fully supports the Republic of Korea (ROK)-Japan GSOMIA, an agreement that demonstrates the maturity of their bilateral defense relationship and improves our ability to coordinate trilaterally. We are all stronger and Northeast Asia is safer when the United States, Japan and Korea work together in solidarity and friendship”.