DAISHI CHIBA and TAKESHI KUMON, Nikkei staff writers
TOKYO — Japan and South Korea should move past differences that led Seoul to scrap an intelligence-sharing pact, a senior U.S. State Department official said on Saturday, arguing the decision ought to be reconsidered.
“The United States will continue to encourage these two critical allies to resolve bilateral frictions,” David Stilwell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, told reporters on a trip to Japan.
What the U.S. can do is “bring the two sides together and encourage both to take a larger view of this issue,” said Stilwell, who was in Tokyo to attend the Mount Fuji Dialogue, an annual gathering of business and political leaders from Japan and the U.S.
“This is a security issue that affects all three of us.”
The General Security of Military Information Agreement between Japan and South Korea will expire Nov. 22 following an August decision by Seoul to end it amid a flare-up in tensions between the two neighbors.
Both Tokyo and Washington have urged South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s government to maintain the pact in order to respond to North Korean weapons tests and other threats.
On North Korea, Stilwell said that while Washington tries to build “a normal relationship” with Pyongyang, “we have to continue to add pressure.”
As the two-day Mount Fuji Dialogue kicked off, speakers also weighed in on the Hong Kong protests and U.S.-China relations.
Tom Rose, a top aide to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, expressed support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters.
In a panel discussion about the three-way relationship between the U.S., China and Japan, Rose said: “To the people of Hong Kong, I repeat the plea issued by Vice President Pence yesterday: ‘We are with you.'”
The massive demonstrations in the territory, now in their fifth month, were sparked by legislation that would have allowed Hong Kong residents accused of crimes in mainland China to be extradited. They have since evolved into a broader call for greater democracy.
Rose also said that “Hong Kong and Taiwan stand as examples of a different and better way for the Chinese people to govern themselves.”
Rose said the U.S. had three objectives with respect to China: “To deter military conflict with China by outpacing her military modernization.” Second, he said, “We can help downgrade the credibility of the Chinese Communist Party by winning back our technological leadership,” and lastly, “showing the world the superiority of our open and free way of life.”
H.R. McMaster, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, who also took part in the panel, said the Chinese Communist Party leadership is driven by fear of losing control.
The Mount Fuji Dialogue was launched in 2014 and is hosted by the Japan Institute of International Affairs and the Japan Center for Economic Research.