SEOUL – In a sign of easing tension, Seoul and Tokyo are preparing to hold talks this year on sharing military intelligence, the South Korean Defense Ministry said Monday.
“It’s my understanding that talks on sharing military intelligence between South Korea and Japan are being prepared,” Defense Ministry spokesman Nah Seung-yong said during a news briefing.
Annual talks between Japanese and South Korean military officials were not held last year “due to various situations,” he said, without providing further details as to when this year’s talks would be held.
His comment was in response to a report Monday that Japan had sent out a feeler to South Korea on a possible visit by Tadashi Miyagawa, chief of the intelligence bureau at the Defense Ministry, to South Korea in mid-June.
“It will be unusual for a chief of the Japanese military intelligence unit to make a visit to South Korea at a time bilateral military talks remain virtually suspended,” the Hankook Ilbo newspaper quoted a South Korean government source as saying.
The report added that Seoul sees no reason to reject Tokyo’s offer, as there is a need to review the trilateral military pact signed along with the United States last December.
In another gesture of improving relations, the Japanese and South Korean defense ministers held their first bilateral talks in four years Saturday on the sidelines of a regional security forum in Singapore, and agreed to continue their dialogue.
Ties between South Korea and Japan have deteriorated to their lowest level in recent years due to conflicting views on their bitter shared history as well as the simmering territorial dispute over a set of rocky outcroppings in the Sea of Japan.
Japan ruled the Korean Peninsula from 1910-1945.