Koro Bessho, the Japanese ambassador to Seoul, revealed on Wednesday that Japan is ready to sign a bilateral military intelligence agreement with South Korea “at any time”. The ambassador is urging the South Korean government to sign the pact to improve both countries’ security measures in light of the increasingly warlike threats coming from North Korea.
“Japan is willing to sign the military intelligence-sharing pact with South Korea at any time,” Bessho said during a press conference in Seoul, adding that the pact is sure to be “mutually beneficial to both South Korea and Japan.” Bessho said that North Korea’s threats should convince Seoul that there is a need for closer coordination between allies Japan, South Korea, and the United States. “While the South Korea-U.S. alliance and the Japan-U.S. alliance are solid, a defense cooperation between South Korea and Japan is still vulnerable,” Bessho said. The ambassador also pointed out that if ever a shooting war breaks out in the Korean peninsula, Japan could be of service to both Korean and U.S. forces. The U.S. has 28,500 troops in South Korea and about 50,000 American troops in Japan. “In case of emergency, most U.S. military personnel and assets should be en route to Japan to go to the Korean Peninsula,” he said. “I think Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. 7th Fleet would work together to secure sea routes.”
The signing of the intelligence-sharing treaty was postponed last July as the South Koreans showed discontent towards the agreement. “Although it is a sensitive issue, I hope the two nations to forge a close cooperation in the field of defense,” the Japanese ambassador said. If the treaty is signed, it will be the first-ever military pact between the two disputing nations. Bessho admitted that because of historical and territorial issues, there is “no simple solution” to improving relations between South Korea and Japan. Foremost on the list of these will be the Takeshima/Dokdo islands dispute, a territory that lies closer to South Korea but is also claimed by Japan. South Korea administers the territory, keeping a police force on the islets.
[via Yonhap News]