South Korea on 22 November 2016 approved a deal to share intelligence on North Korea directly with Japan. The agreement will come into effect after it is signed in the South Korean Parliament.
The pact known as the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) was inked in Seoul, South Korea. This pact will help the two countries to pool military intelligence on Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.
The deal is designed to take advantage of the two countries’ perceived intelligence strengths. In case of Japan it is high-tech surveillance, and in South Korea, it is human intelligence or spies in North Korea.
Till date, the two countries shared their intelligence report via the US, which was seen as a cumbersome process in the face of potentially urgent threats. They were sharing their intelligence report on North Korea's nuclear program via the US under a deal signed in 2014.
Earlier, the two countries wanted to sign a similar deal in the year 2012 but South Korea failed to do so due to domestic opposition.
The deal saw outcry by a large section of people as well as the opposition party of South Korea. In the case of South Korea, the deal is controversial as the country remembers the Japanese atrocities in wartime. The country still shares anti-Japanese sentiment over Japan’s colonial rule during the first half of the 20th century (between 1910 and 1945).
The main opposition party of South Korea termed the deal as humiliating and unpatriotic. They also threatened to impeach the Defence Minister Han Min-Koo, if the agreement is passed through the Parliament.
North Korea has termed the pact as dangerous, as it would open a door to a Japanese re-invasion of the Korean Peninsula.
On the other hand, the Defence Minster of South Korea defended the decision by terming that the deal was necessary due to military threat posed by North Korea.