November 28, 2019 11:16
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Wednesday that the governments of South Korea and Japan need to engage in "active discussions" to consolidate a bilateral intelligence-sharing pact that Seoul provisionally extended last week.
Motegi told the Yomiuri Shimbun that Seoul and Tokyo are holding working-level talks to set up a summit between their leaders and added there is "an important task" they need to discuss.
On Monday, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that Tokyo considers the "stable operation" of the pact to be "vital" and will discuss ways to improve the conditions of the agreement with Seoul.
Currently, the agreement is renewed every year and can be scrapped on 90 days’ notice by any side that wants to end it.
One diplomatic source in Tokyo said, "The Abe administration believes that the pact is necessary to deal not only with North Korea but also China. They want to make sure that South Korea will not be able to raise the possibility of scrapping it again."
Japan considers the pact a symbol of trilateral cooperation and also wants to forge an agreement with Seoul to share ammunition and fuel in an emergency.
Bilateral military cooperation is expected to be a key agenda item at the summit scheduled in Chengdu, China at the end of next month.
Meanwhile, Motegi told the daily that any attempt by South Korea to sell assets owned by Japanese companies in the South to compensate forced laborers during World War II would "worsen" already strained bilateral ties.
The Supreme Court last year ruled that Korea forced labor victims can sue their Japanese employers despite a 1965 treaty that ostensibly settles all reparations, and lower courts have since authorized the seizure of Japanese firms' Korean assets.
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