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Korea readies to normalize GSOMIA

Yoon, Kishida agree to work together to reactivate Korea-Japan-China trilateral summit

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : March 21, 2023 - 14:58

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President Yoon Suk Yeol (Yonhap) President Yoon Suk Yeol (Yonhap)

South Korea has informed Japan of completely normalizing a military intelligence-sharing pact between the two countries, which had been operated conditionally since 2019, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday. Seoul sent an official letter to the neighboring country on fully restoring the pact known as the General Security of Military Information Agreement, which follows a list of agreements unveiled after last week's bilateral summit held in Tokyo.

The pact had been suspended in 2019 by the former Moon Jae-in government after Japan imposed export restrictions on South Korea in what was widely seen as retaliation for 2018 a ruling by South Korea's top court on forced labor regarding Japan's 1910-45 colonial occupation of the Korean Peninsula.

“Through this measure, the Korean government has removed institutional uncertainty related to GSOMIA and laid the foundation for strengthening military intelligence cooperation between South Korea and Japan, and among Korea, the US and Japan,” the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

Shortly before the Korea-Japan summit last week in Tokyo between South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the trade authorities of both countries announced the lifting of export restrictions.

"We declared the complete normalization of GSOMIA at the summit a little while ago," Yoon said at a joint press conference after the summit.

In the face of public skepticism over deals forged before and during the summit, Yoon also delivered a brief speech during a livestreamed Cabinet meeting in Seoul on Tuesday morning, stressing the importance of restoring relations with Japan.

Highlighting the need for bilateral relations to go beyond the past, Yoon said "misunderstandings can be resolved and relations can be restored" when the two countries continue to meet and communicate.

He also said that he believes that Japan will "surely" respond to Korea's efforts in removing obstacles between the two countries.

He reiterated that Japan has already “expressed remorse and apologized” to Korea on past historical issues dozens of times, and urged not to arouse "anti-Japanese" sentiment as mean to gain political leverage.

Yoon said the Korea-Japan economic security dialogue at the National Security Council level will soon be launched to “promote common interests” between the two countries, and “strengthen cooperation on key issues” such as core technology and supply chains.

He added the two leaders agreed to work together to reactivate the Korea-Japan-China trilateral summit to revitalize regional dialogue and cooperation in Northeast Asia. The summit has been held a total of eight times beginning in December 2008 under the Lee Myung-bak administration, but has been at a standstill since December 2019 due to the pandemic, the wartime forced labor issue and growing US-China tensions.

On Monday, Kishida invited Yoon to a Group of Seven summit to be held in Hiroshima, Japan, in May. He also invited the leaders of Brazil, India, Vietnam and four other countries to the summit.