South Korea and Japan will sign an agreement to allow the quarreling neighbors to share intelligence on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs via the U.S.
The deal to be inked “imminently” is limited to intelligence on North Korea, and requires consent from both South Korea and Japan for the U.S. to share information, the South’s Defense Ministry said today in an e-mailed statement.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun Hye have yet to hold a summit as ties remain fractious over historical issues and islands claimed by both nations, known as Takeshima in Japanese and Dokdo in Korean. The accord revives efforts that collapsed two years ago just hours before signing -- a deal that would have also included information on China.
“It’s symbolically important,” said Robert Dujarric, director of the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University’s Japan Campus. “We disagree on history, we disagree on Dokdo, but we can work together and this is a message to North Korea and China.”
Deputy defense ministers in the three nations will sign the agreement remotely in their countries without a formal ceremony, the ministry said. The U.S. already has separate intelligence pacts with Japan and South Korea, and stations troops in both nations.
North Korea said Dec. 20 it would bolster its nuclear arms program in response to what it calls U.S.-led condemnation of its human rights record at the United Nations. North Korea conducted its third atomic test last year, and has threatened to attack the U.S. with nuclear missiles.