Japan, U.S. say 3-way ties with South Korea remain key to security

Japan, U.S. say 3-way ties with South Korea remain key to security

The Associated Press

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, agreed with Japanese officials in mid-November 2019 that three-way cooperation with South Korea remains key to regional security and that an intelligence-sharing pact between Tokyo and Seoul should not be scrapped.

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said he told Milley that discord among the three countries would only destabilize the region and benefit North Korea, China and Russia.

“We shared a view that Japan-U.S.-South Korea cooperation is more important now than ever, as we discussed the latest situation related to North Korea, including the North’s latest launch of ballistic missiles,” Motegi said.

He and Milley also agreed on the importance of the Japan-South Korea intelligence-sharing pact. Motegi added that Milley promised to convey that message to South Korea during an upcoming visit there.

South Korea has announced plans to scrap the General Security of Military Information Agreement, or GSOMIA, amid disputes with Japan over trade and wartime history.

The deal, which is set to expire later in November, symbolizes the Asian neighbors’ security cooperation with Washington in the face of North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat and China’s growing influence.

Milley also met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Defense Minister Taro Kono, according to the Foreign Ministry and news reports. (Pictured: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, meets with U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley prior to their talks at Abe’s office in Tokyo on November 12, 2019.)

Kono said recently that scrapping GSOMIA would send the “wrong signal to nearby countries, especially at a time when cooperation among Japan, the U.S. and South Korea is necessary.” He said, “The ball is in South Korea’s court” and urged Seoul to “make a wise decision.”

Japan also appears to be making a last-ditch effort to patch up its relations with South Korea to save the intelligence-sharing agreement.