Japan and South Korea swap intelligence on North Korean threats for the first time

Kyodo

Japan and South Korea have exchanged information on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs for the first time since they inked a military intelligence-sharing pact last month, the South’s Defense Ministry has announced.

A ministry spokesman said the direct exchange of classified information, made on the basis of the General Security of Military Information Agreement signed on Nov. 23, took place at a meeting of the two countries’ defense officials in Seoul on Friday.

During the Defense Trilateral Talks held later in the day, South Korean, Japanese and U.S. officials agreed to strengthen cooperation and steadily implement sanctions based on U.N. resolutions that were adopted after Pyongyang’s fifth nuclear test in September.

Yonhap news agency reported that they also agreed to follow up on their missile warning exercises held in June and November to improve their combined capabilities to detect and trace North Korean missiles, more than 20 of which have been launched this year alone.

The meeting was attended by Yoo Jeh-seung, South Korea’s deputy defense minister for policy; Satoshi Maeda, director general for defense policy at Japan’s Defense Ministry; and Kelly Magsamen, assistant secretary of state of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs at the Pentagon.

The next meeting is to be held next year in Tokyo.

The pact signed by Tokyo and Seoul last month is aimed at facilitating the exchange of military intelligence and preventing such information from falling into the hands of other countries.

Previously, the two countries exchanged such intelligence through the United States under a trilateral pact signed in 2014.

Japan and South Korea were ready to sign the bilateral agreement in 2012, but Seoul postponed the process at the last minute due to fierce public opposition.

Negative sentiments still linger among the South Korean public about closer military cooperation with Japan, which colonized the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.