Seoul showing reluctance to forging military cooperation pact; historical gripes cited

Kyodo

Tokyo and Seoul will probably postpone concluding an accord that would let their militaries share equipment and transport roles, Japanese sources said Thursday.

The delay apparently comes in response to Seoul’s concerns about public opposition toward cooperating with the Self-Defense Forces, given Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

According to news from Seoul, South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan Jin, who was expected to visit Japan on May 30 and 31, told an opposition leader Thursday that he will postpone the trip as more time is needed to conclude two bilateral military accords that the two countries were in the final stages of negotiating.

Kim was referring to the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement, which stipulates reciprocal provision of supplies such as food, water and fuel plus medical services when the two sides conduct joint military activities, as well as another one on the sharing of military intelligence, known as the General Security of Military Information Agreement.

According to Democratic United Party officials, Kim told the party’s interim leader, Park Jie Won, in a meeting that he is handling “with caution” the issue of concluding the accords, which would be the first of their kind since the end of Japan’s colonial rule.

“I had planned to sign (the) General Security of Military Information Agreement when I visit Japan in May, but decided not to visit in May due to concerns about handling the issue with more haste than caution,” Kim was said to have told Park.

“As public attention is high . . . I will not handle the matter with more haste than caution, but handle it throughout discussions at the National Assembly,” he said.

During the meeting, Park was said to have urged Kim to be cautious about signing any military pact with Japan, as Tokyo has not fully repented of wartime atrocities it committed during its colonial rule.