SKorea pushes ahead with Tokyo military agreement

Seoul approves pact to share military intelligence with Japan despite government turmoil

SKorea pushes ahead with Tokyo military agreement

World Bulletin / News Desk

South Korea is set to formally sign an agreement to share military intelligence with Japan this Wednesday following Seoul’s approval of the contentious pact.

Deputy Prime Minister Yoo Il-ho announced the breakthrough Tuesday in the absence of President Park Geun-hye -- who has missed Cabinet meetings for six weeks due to a corruption scandal that has left her under the threat of impeachment.

The General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Tokyo was abandoned in 2012 due to popular wariness in the South over rising nationalism under Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has been repeatedly accused of whitewashing his country’s past abuses on the Korean Peninsula.

South Korea’s official line is that the pact is needed to better protect against escalating North Korean threats, and that Seoul already shares military information with more than 30 nations.

“The signing of GSOMIA with Japan will help South Korea fully utilize Japan's advanced information-gathering capabilities on the North's nuclear and missile programs,” a defense ministry official was quoted as saying by local news agency Yonhap.

While the South’s three opposition parties have vowed to submit a motion to dismiss the defense minister over the GSOMIA, the agreement also reflects their helplessness to change Seoul’s course even if the president’s Gallup Korea approval rating has fallen as low as 5 percent for three straight weeks.

Park is protected from criminal indictment by her position despite being named by prosecutors as an accomplice in alleged crimes including pressuring conglomerates to make donations and giving away state secrets.

Unless the president quits, that leaves impeachment as the last option for those seeking to oust her.

But even if two-thirds of the National Assembly were to vote in favor of impeachment, the process would last until the middle of next year at least and lead to Park’s prime minister, Hwang Kyo-ahn, taking charge -- effectively protecting the policies of the current administration with the president’s single term expiring anyway in early 2018.

Last Mod: 22 Kasım 2016, 09:54
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