Japan, South Korea meet after saving intelligence pact

NAGOYA, Japan — The Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers met on the sidelines of a Japan-hosted G-20 meeting Saturday, a day after Seoul kept alive a 2016 military intelligence sharing pact with Tokyo, reversing its planned termination amid bilateral tensions.

Japan’s Toshimitsu Motegi and South Korea’s Kang Kyung-wha discussed ways to mend their countries’ troubled ties as they met in Nagoya, where Japan was hosting the foreign ministers meeting from the Group of 20 major economies.

Motegi was expected to press Kang to stick with a 1965 agreement in resolving their dispute over wartime Korean labourers, seen as the root cause of tensions that led to Japan’s trade curbs against South Korea and subsequent retaliatory measures that spilled into the area of national security.

“I plan to hear more about South Korea’s decision,” Motegi told reporters before the talks.

The outcome of the talks was not immediately known.

Seoul’s announcement Friday followed a strong U.S. push to save the pact, the General Security of Military Information Agreement, or GSOMIA, which is a symbol of the country’s three-way security co-operation amid North Korea’s nuclear threats and China’s growing influence.

Just six hours before it was to expire, South Korea announced that it was aborting the process for the time being. In Tokyo, Japan’s trade ministry announced a decision to resume their export controls talks, in response to Seoul’s decision to drop its legal step at the World Trade Organization against Japan.

Japanese trade officials said it was not an effort to save GSOMIA, but South Korea had indicated it may reconsider if Japan showed a sign of flexibility on the export issues.

In contrast to its tensions with South Korea, Japan’s often sensitive relations with another Asian neighbour, China, has dramatically improved in recent years.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who also attended the G-20 meeting, said Beijing was willing to further its relations with Japan by promoting cultural exchanges.

At the G-20 meeting, the member states agreed on the importance of free and open multilateral trade and creating global rules for the digital economy.


Yamaguchi reported from Tokyo.

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Johnson Lai And Mari Yamaguchi, The Associated Press