Military pact sought with South Korea

Cooperation eyed on overseas ops

Kyodo News

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The government plans to pursue a military agreement that ensures reciprocal provision of supplies and services between the Self-Defense Forces and the South Korean military when conducting international cooperative activities, sources said Monday.

Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa is expected to convey the plan for the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement to his South Korean counterpart Kim Kwan Jin when he visits next Monday.

Kitazawa is also expected to confirm the need to accelerate bilateral talks to conclude the General Security of Military Information Agreement, the sources said.

Tokyo has acknowledged a growing need to strengthen military cooperation with South Korea, given the rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea shelled the South’s Yeonpyeong Island near the tense western sea border in November, killing two soldiers and two civilians.

South Korean defense authorities are positive about the Japanese proposal, but diplomatic officials are generally reluctant, given the hostilities lingering from Japan’s annexation of Korea in the early 1900s, making it uncertain if talks will proceed smoothly, the sources said.

The ACSA stipulates mutual obligations on sharing food, water, fuel and necessary components as well as cooperation on transportation, maintenance and medical work. Details of operations are defined by each country’s laws.

Japan is hoping to seal the ACSA with South Korea in regard to international peacekeeping operations, relief activities and joint drills, the sources said.

Tokyo, however, has yet to decide whether the ACSA will be effective during emergencies on the periphery, such as on the Korean Peninsula, the sources said.

Japan has already formed similar accords with the United States and Australia.

Meanwhile, a GSOMIA between Japan and the United States has been effective since 2007 to prevent information leakage when the two nations share necessary military information, such as technology and coding information, in conducting joint operations or in the case of emergency.

Maehara report denied

SEOUL (Kyodo) Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara is hoping that a security alliance can be struck between Japan and South Korea to counter North Korea, the Maeil Business Newspaper said Monday in a report that was later denied by the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

In his New Year’s interview with the South Korean economic daily, Maehara said North Korea’s military provocations not only threaten the Korean Peninsula but also the stability of all of East Asia.

“I hope Japan will form an alliance with South Korea also in the field of security,” Maehara was quoted as saying.

On Monday evening, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement that called on the newspaper to issue a correction on the grounds that Maehara never spoke about a Japan-South Korea security alliance in the interview.

The ministry said he merely stated that one of the themes that will be in focus this year is how both Japan and South Korea will be able to create an atmosphere for serious dialogue with South Korea in the area of security.