Japan and South Korea will extend a critical military intelligence-sharing agreement, Japanese news agency Kyodo reported on Friday, November 22, just hours before the General Security of Military Agreement (GSOMIA) was due to expire.
Seoul would reverse its decision to allow the pact to lapse at midnight and had informed Tokyo on its intention to work together further. Under the current situation, Seoul’s decision means a lot for Washington. In fact, the US had pressed its two Asian states to maintain the pact GSOMIA.
Seoul preferred to take a long pause prior to confirming its intention to extend a critical agreement. The reason is obvious – the historical disputes between the pair spiralled into one of their worst diplomatic spats in years.
For the United States, both Seoul and Tokyo are major Asian allies, democracies and market economies faced with an overbearing China and nuclear-armed North Korea.
But their relationship is darkened by territorial and historical disputes stemming from Japan’s bitterly-resented 35-year colonial rule over the Korean peninsula, including the use of wartime comfort women and forced labour.
The US benefits also from the GSOMIA pact between Japan and South Korea
The GSOMIA pact, signed in 2016, enabled the two to share military secrets, particularly over North Korea’s nuclear and missile capacity. For the White House, friendly relations between Seoul and Tokyo are important diplomatic factor.
The United States had frequently urged its two main allies in the region to bury the hatchet, stressing that the only countries to benefit from the row were North Korea and China.
South Korea had promised to continue sharing secrets via the United States as a third party, but this had raised concerns about efficiency in an emergency situation.