• Kyodo

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Japan, South Korea and the United States are in the final stage of talks to sign a memorandum of understanding on sharing and safeguarding sensitive information on defense matters such as North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, diplomatic sources said Monday.

The memorandum, which would help bolster trilateral cooperation in countering threats posed by Pyongyang, comes after Tokyo and Seoul put off signing a bilateral agreement on sharing sensitive information in 2012 due to opposition in South Korea.

Japan sees such an arrangement as helpful for dealing quickly with situations such as the launch of a ballistic missile by North Korea, the sources said.

Tokyo and Seoul have each signed a General Security of Military Information Agreement with the United States to facilitate exchanges of sensitive information on military affairs.

In May, the three nations’ defense chiefs agreed on the importance of creating a framework for sharing information.

The countries have continued since held working-level talks on reaching a memorandum of understanding, which does not have legal binding force or obligations, the sources said.

Still, opposition in South Korea against bolstering security cooperation with Tokyo could scupper the deal, the sources said.