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South Korea decided Friday not to let lapse the bilateral military information sharing agreement with Japan. The unexpected move, which came only hours before the pact was to have been terminated, was greeted with relief in Tokyo and Washington. It is an important recognition of the value of that agreement.

Significantly, however, Seoul has emphasized that the move is “provisional” — much depends on discussions between the two governments on the broader state of bilateral relations, in particular, Japan’s readiness to restore South Korea to its “white list” of countries with which it trades. And while both governments insist otherwise, that, in turn, rests on their ability to resolve contentious historical issues that continue to poison ties.

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