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Thu, 22 Aug 2019 13:37 - Updated Thu, 22 Aug 2019 13:37

South Korea to scrap intelligence-sharing pact with Japan amid history feud

SEOUL - South Korea said on Thursday it will scrap an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, a decision that could escalate a dispute over history and trade and undercut security cooperation on North Korea.

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With the decision not to extend the pact, the political and trade disputes between South Korea and Japan now extend into some of the most sensitive national security issues in the region.

The arrangement was designed to share information on the threat posed by North Korea’s missile and nuclear activities.

The decision to end it comes after North Korea launched a series of short-range ballistic missiles in protest against what it sees as military build-ups in South Korea and Japan.

The General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) was due to be automatically renewed on Saturday, unless either side decided to cancel it.

The decision was announced after an hour-long discussion within the presidential National Security Council (NSC). South Korean President Moon Jae-in approved it.

Japan created a “grave change” in the environment for bilateral security cooperation by removing South Korea’s fast-track export status, said Kim You-geun, a deputy director of the NSC.

Japan cited security concerns without providing specific evidence for its decision on South Korea’s trade status.

“Under this situation, we have determined that it would not serve our national interest to maintain an agreement we signed with the aim of exchanging military information which is sensitive to security,” Kim told a news conference.

Japan protested against South Korea’s decision, the Japanese national broadcaster NHK reported.

Before the announcement, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the deal bolstered security cooperation between the two countries.

“Although ties between Japan and South Korea are in a very tough situation, we believe we should cooperate with South Korea where cooperation is necessary,” Suga told a regular news conference earlier on Thursday.

This week the foreign ministers of the two countries met outside Beijing and promised to keep talking, but failed to reach any substantive agreements,REUTERS.

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