A military intelligence-sharing pact between Japan and South Korea is set to be renewed, as Seoul did not notify Tokyo of any intention to scrap the agreement by a midnight deadline on Monday.
South Korea, which had threatened to pull out of the pact amid a trade row with Japan, apparently took into account calls from the U.S. that it stay in place.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga stressed the significance of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) at a news conference Monday, saying that it "contributes to regional peace and stability by boosting cooperation and partnership between Japan and South Korea in the area of national security."
"It is important that the agreement continues to be implemented in a stable way," the top government spokesman added, calling on Seoul to act calmly over the matter.
The bilateral pact, concluded on Nov. 23, 2016, is renewed automatically every year unless one of the two countries informs the other of an intention to scrap it at least 90 days before the expiration date.
In August last year, the administration of South Korean President Moon Jae-in informed Japan of its decision to scrap the deal, in retaliation for Tokyo's tightening of export controls for South Korea.
But in November, when the agreement was on the verge of expiration based on the Moon government's decision, Seoul put the notification on hold after being persuaded to do so by the United States.
Since then, Seoul has taken the stance that the country can end the agreement at any time, regardless of the deadline for notification, as the declaration of withdrawal has been merely suspended, not fully revoked.
A South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson repeated the position at a news conference on Aug. 4.
Meanwhile, many in the Japanese government believe that it is very difficult for Seoul to actually scrap the agreement as the United States has exerted significant pressure on South Korea to keep it alive.
After the Moon administration notified Tokyo of its intention to scrap the pact a year ago, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, the top U.S. military officer, visited South Korea to urge it to keep it in place.
"The United States gave South Korea a good dressing down last year, so Seoul can no longer use the pact as a card in negotiations with Japan," a senior Japanese Foreign Ministry official said.
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