Tokyo Welcomes Seoul's Decision to Maintain GSOMIA


Tokyo, Nov. 22 (Jiji Press)--The Japanese government welcomed South Korea's announcement Friday that it will maintain the two countries' General Security of Military Information Agreement, or GSOMIA.

"Cooperation between Japan and South Korea and among the two Asian neighbors plus the United States is extremely important for dealing with North Korea," Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said. "I believe South Korea made the decision to extend the pact from such a strategic point of view," he told reporters.

The military information-sharing pact, which was concluded in November 2016, "is a symbol of Japan-U.S.-South Korea security cooperation," a senior Japanese Defense Ministry official said. Following Seoul's decision in August not to renew the bilateral GSOMIA amid deteriorating Tokyo-Seoul relations, the pact was set to expire at midnight Friday (3 p.m. GMT).

As the pact is going to be maintained for now, "we've got out of an unstable situation," at a time when North Korea has been repeatedly launching missile, the Defense Ministry official said.

Still, how long the pact will be maintained depends on the course of Tokyo-Seoul negotiations on Japan's tighter export controls on South Korea, pundits said. "Japan did not use a bargaining chip this time over the issue of export controls," a Japanese government source said, indicating Tokyo's refusal to make concessions concerning the matter.

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