South Korea and Japan finalize unprecedented pact to normalize military intelligence sharing

Television showing photographs released by North Korea of the launch of long-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan. – KIM JAE-HWAN / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO

South Korea’s Defense Ministry has begun the process to normalize, after several frictions, an agreement to accelerate and deepen military intelligence sharing with Japan as an additional protective measure against North Korea’s ballistic tests.

The so-called General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), originally signed in 2016 but suspended three years later, was ultimately ratified during the Tokyo summit between Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.

South Korea unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2019 on the orders of then-President Moon Jae In in protest against a decision by Tokyo to restrict exports to Seoul, all in the context of the historical dispute over Japan’s slavery policy against the South Korean population during World War II.

Following the consolidation of the agreement, the South Korean Foreign Ministry will send a formal request to its Japanese counterpart to finalize the pact.

During the summit, Yoon and Kishida stressed the importance of increasing joint work between the two countries to «counter North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic actions».

Shortly before Yoon’s arrival, however, North Korean authorities launched an intercontinental ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, an act condemned by Seoul and Tokyo, which stressed the importance of their cooperation.