• Kyodo

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All information exchanged between Japan and South Korea under a bilateral military intelligence sharing pact to be signed Wednesday in Seoul will be treated as “secrets” subject to restricted access, according to the agreement’s outline obtained by Kyodo News.

In Japan, most of the information received from South Korea is likely to be categorized as “specially designated secrets” subject to strict protection under the country’s secrecy law, a government source said, a move that could raise concerns that the public’s right to know could be curtailed.

Japan’s secrecy law came into force in December 2014 amid criticism that the definition of “specially designated secrets” is vague, and thus allows the government to withhold information at its own discretion.

Under the law, ministries and agencies can designate as state secrets information deemed to be particularly sensitive in the areas of defense, diplomacy, counterterrorism and counterespionage.

Under the intelligence-sharing agreement, the two countries expect to share information regarding ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests conducted by North Korea, and the activities of its military.

According to the outline, each country will not be allowed to pass information received from the other to any third party, nor will it be allowed to use the information for purposes other than the original intent.

The two countries will also protect the information by limiting the number of government officials and translators given access to it.

In Japan, those allowed to handle “specially designated secrets” have to pass a security clearance assessment.

When sending information as paper documents, both countries will be obliged to put the documents in doubly sealed envelopes. The countries will also be compelled to prevent information from leaking via contractors by strictly assessing beforehand the companies’ security precautions, according to the outline.

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