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South Korea decision to terminate GSOMIA rocks Seoul, Tokyo

By Elizabeth Shim
South Korea decision to terminate GSOMIA rocks Seoul, Tokyo
Kim You-geun, deputy director of South Korea's presidential national security office, announces Seoul's decision to end the General Security of Military Information Agreement with Japan, during a press briefing in Seoul on Thursday. Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE

Aug. 22 (UPI) -- The South Korean government's decision to terminate a military intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan is being met with mixed reactions in Seoul.

In Tokyo, local television suspended regular programming to bring the breaking news of the South Korean decision.

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In its statement made public Thursday afternoon, South Korea's presidential Blue House said maintaining the agreement, known as Japan-Korea GSOMIA, is not in the national interest.

"The Government of the Republic of Korea has decided to terminate the agreement between the government of the Republic of Korea and the Government of Japan on the Protection of Classified Military Information [GSOMIA], and in accordance with its provisions, will notify the government of Japan through diplomatic channels before the extension deadline," the Blue House said Thursday.

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South Korea said in the statement Japan's decision to remove Korea from its "white list" of preferred trading partners and initiate trade restrictions were reasons for the decision to suspend cooperation on security.

"The rationale was that a national security problem had arisen due to a breach of trust, yet no concrete evidence to support those allegations was presented," by Japan, Seoul said.

"Under these circumstances, the Government of the Republic of Korea decided that maintaining this Agreement, which was signed to facilitate the exchange of sensitive military information, does not serve our national interest."

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Lee In-young, a South Korean lawmaker with the ruling Democratic Party, said the decision reflects the need to uphold national interest, the "will of the people," and a "changing security environment."

Opposition party conservatives of the Liberty Korea Party are condemning the termination of GSOMIA, and accused the administration of President Moon Jae-in of trying to create a distraction amid a corruption scandal centered on his former aide, Cho Kuk, Money Today reported.

The news of the cancellation may have taken Japan by surprise, according to South Korean television network MBC.

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Local television channels in Japan suspended regular programming to break the news of the agreement's termination, the report said.

Intelligence South Korea shared with Japan likely included screening and video information collected by reconnaissance aircraft, and information obtained by intercepting wireless communication originating from North Korean military facilities.

GSOMIA was signed in 2016 under former South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

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