Seoul, Aug. 18 (Jiji Press)–The possibility of using withdrawal from a military intelligence-sharing accord with Japan as leverage for negotiations seems no longer in the cards for South Korea as the rift between the East Asian neighbors widens.
Seoul threatened to scrap the General Security of Military Information Agreement, or GSOMIA, with Japan last year, and has since taken the stance that it could end the pact at any time. However, it is unlikely that South Korea will take that option, as there is strong pressure from the United States for it not to do so.
GSOMIA runs for a year and is automatically renewed on Nov. 23 unless either side declares withdrawal by Aug. 24 that year. South Korea gave notice in late August last year that it would scrap the accord, as a retaliatory measure against Japan’s tightening of export controls against the country. It later suspended the notice on Nov. 22 under strong U.S. pressure, averting an actual pullout from the agreement at the last minute.
A South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Aug. 4 that the country could end the agreement at any time, and that the concept of annual extensions no longer applies.
The stance suggests that Seoul believes there is no need for special actions when issuing a notice of its intentions in respect of GSOMIA or when the renewal deadline approaches.
However, it is unlikely that the administration of South Korean President Moon Jae-in will actually ignore pressure from the United States, which is emphasizing the importance of trilateral defense cooperation among it and the two Asian states, and scrap the agreement.
Regarding Japan’s export controls, which caused Seoul to engage in brinksmanship last year, the World Trade Organization has decided to set up a dispute settlement panel at the request of South Korea to review the matter. As a result, the Moon administration cannot reuse the justification it used last year for potentially scrapping GSOMIA, some analysts said.
A lawmaker from South Korea’s main opposition United Future Party said that Moon has ordered the National Defense Ministry to give information regarding North Korean missiles to Japan, accusing him of hypocrisy and using the diplomatic issue to score political points.