TOKYO — Japan and South Korea signed a long-awaited intelligence pact Wednesday, agreeing to share information on threats from North Korea without having to use the United States as an intermediary.
Washington had been urging its two closest allies in Asia to put aside their historical differences so they could cooperate against their common enemy in the region amid stepped-up missile and nuclear tests by the North.
“Even at this moment, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is obsessed with advancing its nuclear and missile capabilities, including a submarine-launched ballistic missile,” South Korea’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The deal, which takes effect immediately, was signed six years to the day after North Korea shelled South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island near the countries’ western maritime border, killing four people.
The pact, the General Security of Military Information Agreement, was initially to be signed in 2012 but was postponed because of opposition in South Korea, where memories of Japan’s colonial aggression remain strong.
Some analysts feared that the deal could be delayed again because of the crisis engulfing South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who is fighting for her political life amid allegations linking her to a corruption and influence-peddling scandal.
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Featured image courtesy of Reuters.