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Japan pact prompts new 'cold war' fears

Accord will see sharing of military intelligence on North Korea, China

South Korean and US soldiers participate in joint military exercises South Korean and US soldiers participate in joint military exercises
  • Stephen Hong, Seoul
  • Korea
  • June 28, 2012
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South Korea and Japan are expected to sign an agreement this week to share military intelligence, an anonymous Foreign Ministry official told media.

The South Korean cabinet approved the measure, which will include information on North Korean and Chinese activities, in a closed-door agreement on Tuesday, he said.

The two governments are expected to sign the General Security of Military Information Agreement tomorrow.

The move is already attracting criticism by activists.

“Military cooperation with Japan could result in a new cold war around the Korean peninsula,” a conglomerate of civic groups said yesterday. The Citizen’s Solidarity for Peace and Unification (CSPU) urged the South Korean government not to sign the agreement.

Military decisions are not subject to public hearings or National Assembly debate, only presidential approval.

The agreement was influenced by the United States in an attempt to curb China’s power, said Lee Jang-hi, professor of international law in Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. He warned that the decision “will revive the cold war of the 1960s”

However, Kim Young-woo, spokesperson of the ruling Saenuri Party, said in a statement yesterday that the country has already signed bilateral military intelligence accords with 24 countries including the US, Canada, Australia and Russia, and opposition to this agreement was indicative of anti-Japan sentiment.

Anti-Japan sentiment in Korea centers around Japan’s sovereignty claims over the islets of Dokdo and failure to apologize for its conscription of laborers and sex slaves during its colonial rule from 1910 to 1945.

The opposition party characterized the move as “breaking the security equilibrium” of the region and “supporting Japanese militarists.”

“The existing South Korea-US alliance is enough for peace and security on the peninsula,” said Lee Gyu-ui, vice-spokesperson of the Democratic United Party.

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