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South Korea, Japan extend military intelligence pact

Skeptical Moon sticks with deal amid increasing threat from North Korea

TOKYO -- Japan and South Korea will extend their agreement to share military intelligence for another year amid rising nuclear and missile provocations from Pyongyang.

The continuation of the General Security of Military Information Agreement had been in doubt. South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who took office in May, had hinted at a re-evaluation of the pact during his election campaign. But Moon did not act to cancel the agreement before Thursday's deadline.

The pact, which involves sharing classified defense information, took effect Nov. 23 last year. The arrangement lasts for a year and is renewed automatically unless a partner chooses to end the deal at least 90 days before the anniversary of the agreement.

"Cooperation between Japan, the U.S. and South Korea is critical," Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters Friday. "We want to work toward strengthening our relationship."

South Korea signed the agreement during Park Geun-hye's administration, overriding objections to military cooperation with Tokyo among some critics. Moon took a hard-line stance against Japan during his presidential campaign.

Yet tensions are growing on the Korean Peninsula as Pyongyang continues to fire ballistic missiles. Japan and South Korea have shared military information during this time in accordance with the pact, and their defense ministers agreed in June to continue "stable implementation" of the agreement.

"Without giving (the agreement) even a year, it is too early to decide" whether to end the pact, South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo said Aug. 14.


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