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S. Korea and Japan discuss security cooperation

BEIJING -- The leaders of South Korea and Japan on Sunday discussed security cooperation, which has recently gained momentum as the two neighbors seek to sign two military pacts on sharing information and logistical support.

President Lee Myung-bak and his Japanese counterpart Yoshihiko Noda held a bilateral meeting as they gathered here for the annual tripartite summit with China.

Seoul and Tokyo are currently working to sign the General Security of Military Information Agreement and the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement.

The GSOMIA is expected to see the militaries of the countries to share information on various issues including North Korea. The ACSA is to allow the militaries to offer goods and services when they are needed for peacetime humanitarian operations and disaster relief.

Deepened defense cooperation between the two countries is expected to help them respond more effectively to military threats from North Korea, analysts said, despite criticism that it could needlessly provoke the communist state.

“It is not a surprise for us to seek the information-sharing agreement as Seoul has such pacts with 24 countries. Japan has Aegis-equipped destroyers and early warning systems. We can exchange intelligence (from those sources),” said a senior Seoul official.

Regarding the thorny issue of South Korean women forced into sexual slavery during World War II, the Japanese leader said that the two states should put their heads together to come up with wise solutions.

Regarding the “comfort women” issue, Seoul has demanded that Japan sincerely devise a solution while the elderly victims of the wartime atrocities are still alive.

Last December, President Lee pressed his Japanese counterpart to address the issue, underscoring that the issue has been a stumbling block in the way of the two nations working toward a “mature, future-oriented” relationship.

Japan has argued that the issue was settled under a 1965 bilateral pact, while Seoul maintains that comfort women issues are separate from the deal and should be dealt with from a humanitarian standpoint.

By Song Sang-ho
Korea Herald Youtube