November 24, 2016 09:47
Defense Minister Han Min-koo and Japanese Ambassador to Seoul Yasumasa Nagamine signed an intelligence-sharing pact between their two countries in Seoul on Wednesday.
The signing came less than a month after talks on the agreement resumed but four years and five months after they were halted amid protests here against closer military ties with the former occupier and the secretive nature of negotiations.
The pact specifies how to exchange and protect military intelligence about North Korea.
It will give South Korea quick indirect access to Japan's advanced surveillance system with five reconnaissance satellites and 77 maritime patrol aircraft. In return, Seoul will provide Tokyo with human and communications intelligence.
Critics remain worried that the pact could allow Japanese armed forces to enter the Korean Peninsula or indirectly put South Korea under the U.S. missile defense system in the region. Others accuse the government of rushing the delicate security issue through while a massive corruption scandal is keeping people's eyes off the ball.
We humbly accept the criticism that we could have done more to win people's understanding and support," a Defense Ministry spokesman said. "But worries about the possibility of Japanese troops entering Korea are unfounded."
But even while making that admission, the ministry bungled press protocol surrounding the event by refusing to let reporters take pictures of the signing and releasing only its own photos.
Reporters staged a protest by laying their cameras on the floor as the Japanese envoy entered the building.
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