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Opinions on military intel agreement with Japan

As you can imagine, not everybody’s happy with the soon-to-be-signed intelligence sharing agreement with Japan.

Mind you, not everybody’s unhappy with it, either. The mainstream press—i.e., the conservatives—seem OK with it. Oddly, I didn’t see an editorial on it in the Chosun (perhaps they’re busy?), but the Dong-A Ilbo said it believed the agreement would help prevent North Korean provocations and assist in responding quickly when crises erupt. Because intel gathered by Japanese warships and satellites had to go through the United States first before it got to Korea, there were intelligence delays. The agreement will also strengthen search and rescue operations and responding to extra-national security threats, including helping with international peacekeeping operations.

The Dong-A did say there’s no need to give China the impression that Korea and Japan are joining hands with the United States to surround it; Seoul already has similar agreements with 24 nations, so China mustn’t use this one as an excuse to strengthen military cooperation with the North. It also noted the importance of building trust between Korea and Japan, and that intel shared between the two must be closely guarded and not leaked to third nations.

Like a lot of folk, though, the Dong-A was not happy about this deal being pushed in secret, calling on the government to convince the people of the need for the agreement. It also said, however, that while some might find intel sharing with Japan inappropriate because Tokyo is trying to turn Dokdo into a disputed region and fails to reflect on its history, Dokdo and historical issues should be discussed separately from military cooperation.

Progressives don’t agree, it would seem. The Hankyoreh decried that “ironic situation in which South Korea, using the North Korean threat as an excuse, was joining hands militarily with Japan, which provided the cause of the division of Korea” was developing while the people remain unaware. The paper really didn’t like how this agreement was handled—not only wasn’t it discussed in the National Assembly, nobody was even told it was being discussed in the Cabinet. When called on it, the government came up with lines like “we left it out of our briefings because we didn’t realize the importance of the matter.”

The Hani also refuted the argument that the agreement isn’t special since Korea has similar agreements with 24 other countries, countering that concluding military agreements with Japan is a different matter qualitatively. It said the people would not accept a military agreement with Japan, which hasn’t budged regarding historical issues or Dokdo. Any sensible government would have looked at public opinion and tried to convince the people, but the Lee administration didn’t hold even one hearing on the matter.

Mind you, the problems with this agreement aren’t limited to just public sentiment, the Hani says. Strengthening cooperation between Seoul, Tokyo and Washington has long been part of US strategy to contain China, and also provides a base to push jointly a three-nation missile defense system. The Lee administration, however, is accelerating a mistaken policy of unilaterally standing with the Americans in its confrontation with China. This will lead to China, Russia and North Korea strengthening their cooperation and worsen the structure of confrontation in Northeast Asia.

Warning that once military cooperation between South Korea and Japan begins, it can only increase, and that one cannot exclude the possibility of the agreement developing into something like an alliance, the Hani says Korea, the greatest victim of Japanese militarism, mustn’t take the lead encouraging Japan to become a military power and sit back and watch the justification of Japanese military intervention on the Korean Peninsula. The agreement should be suspended and brought before the people for discussion.

Now, as for concerns that this agreement might be aimed at China, it seems the Foreign Ministry has already let the cat out of the bag:

The official said the military pact with Japan is also taking aim at the rise of China.

“To cope with the rise of China, the military intelligence pact with Japan is needed to boost our intelligence capability,” the official said.

It would seem the United States and Japan aren’t the only countries worried about China…

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  • iMe

    hell yes! korea and japan really need to bury thr hatchet and learn to get along. in fact, korea and japan should become bff’s and keep those chicoms in check.

  • CactusMcHarris

    Seems to me more resources directed at the small gorilla in the area (DPRK) are a good thing for both countries to share. Is there any reason why a common enemy shouldn’t cause cooperation?

  • rudder

    In the event of a ballistic attack by the DPRK, South Korea will now have intel quicker and can thus respond faster, AND they don’t have to rely on the US as a middle man to re route the information. For me, the positives far outweigh the negatives here.
    Perhaps this is a strategic decision for when the US hands over command to South Korea?

    Perhaps this is a strategic decision for when the US hands over

  • rudder

    Please forgive my damn phone. :)

  • cm

    US and Soviet Russia who didn’t like each other, joined forces to defeat the greater enemy. Why not Korea and Japan. Doesn’t mean you have to like them. Seems like a pragmatic decision to me.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    US and Soviet Russia who didn’t like each other, joined forces to defeat the greater enemy. Why not Korea and Japan. 

    Well, the United States and Soviet Union didn’t have bilateral alliances with a much stronger mutual ally willing to give them what they want without forming a politically unpopular agreement with one another.

  • Q

    Constitution of S. Korea Article 60 says:

    (1) The National Assembly has the right to consent to the conclusion and ratification of treaties pertaining to mutual assistance or mutual security; treaties concerning important international organizations;
    treaties of friendship, trade and navigation; treaties pertaining to any restriction in sovereignty; peace treaties; treaties which will burden the State or people with an important financial obligation; and treaties related to legislative matters

    (2) The National Assembly also has the right to consent to the declaration of war, the dispatch of armed forces to foreign states, and the stationing of alien forces in the territory of the Republic of Korea..

    This military agreement without ratification of S. Korean Congress would be violation of S. Korean laws.

  • cm

    Yes, Q. But only one thing, one can argue trading military information with another country does not really fall into (1). I bet my last dime, Korea has done a lot of trading of military information with other countries without the national assembly getting involved, and there were no problems. It’s just that this time, the country S.Korea is trading information with, is Japan.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    The words of Park Sunwon, former chief national security secretary at the RMH Blue House, are instructive:

    ” 일본으로부터 무슨 군사정보를 얻지? 대량파괴무기 관련 정보는 이미 한미군사정보협력으로 10여년 이상 해오던 일. 일본으로부터 얻을 게 없다. 본시 일본은 타국으로 부터 입수한 민감한 군사정보를 언론 등 외부로 유출(leak)해 온 곳으로 악명높다. 일본의 신호정보 능력이 한미정보협력으로 부터 얻어지는 정보를 능가할 게 없다. 그렇다고 일본 내각조사처의 휴민트에 한국 국정원의 휴민트가 뒤지는 상황은 절대 아니라고 본다. 얻을 게 없다. . . . 한일군사정보보호협정, 그러니까 우리가 정보를 줄 테니 보안을 잘 지켜달라는 협정인데 넘겨주다 넘겨주다 못해 우리의 군사정보를 일본에 다 넘겨주겠다는 겁니다. 일본으로 부터 받을 것은 한마디로 거의 없다는 겁니다. 4월 13일 북한이 은하-3호 발사했을 때 전혀 깡통이었던 게 일본이고 우리 해군은 45초 만에 발사 궤적까지 벌써 잡았었죠. 그런데 무슨 군사정보 협력입니까? 매국노들입니다.”

  • cm

    “매국노들입니다” he says. Coming from the former member of the RMH government which has leaked critical Korean and US military secrets to North Korea, that’s really rich.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    So very much like you to completely ignore the substance of the entire comment, and hang on to a meaningless parting shot at the end.

  • http://koreanlanguagenotes.blogspot.com/ gbevers

    Once again many Koreans seem willing to cut off their nose (security) to spite their face (Japan).

    China and North Korea are common enemies of South Korea, Japan, and the United States, which is why the United States wants South Korea and Japan to cooperate militarily. The United States knows that China is the real enemy since North Korea is essentially a Chinese buffer state. China is the reason the United States is still in South Korea sixty years after the Korean War.

    China and North Korea are bigger threats to South Korea and Japan than to the United States because of their proximity to China and North Korea, and China and North Korea are bigger threats to South Korea than to Japan for the same reason. If China invades North Korea or incorporates North Korea, South Korea and Japan will be more willing to go to war than the United States, and South Korea will be more willing to go to war than Japan.

    If China takes over North Korea, South Koreans should realize that the United States will not go to war with China. South Korea will simply become the new buffer state between China and Japan. Therefore, South Koreans need a strong military alliance with Japan, and the United States now to help discourage a Chinese take over of North Korea. If South Koreans do not want a military alliance with Japan now, maybe they will be more willing after China takes over North Korea.

  • cm

    TK, what the Korean left opposition party say about the Korea’s current government (traitors comments), is exactly said by the Japanese right opposition party about Japan’s current government – they’re all traitors.

    Gbevers, that will never happen (military alliance between Korea and Japan), because peoples of neither countries, Korea nor Japan, would ever allow that to happen. Staying clear of each other, and cooperating only when they have to, is the best you can ever ask for.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    TK, what the Korean left opposition party say about the Korea’s current government (traitors comments), is exactly said by the Japanese right opposition party about Japan’s current government – they’re all traitors.

    Right before the “traitor” line, there is a big wall of text discussing many interesting details regarding how Korea and Japan handle intelligence regarding national security. But no, you will do everything you can to avoid discussing the substance.

    Really, it is my fault for bothering to deal with you. You have already shown amply that you have zero regard for facts, data, records, or even staying consistent with what you said just a few minutes ago. So keep talking. Unless you are ready to talk about the actual issue, I don’t care any more.

  • cm

    I see nothing of substance in his writing that leads me to believe there is nothing Korea can gain from the information provided by Japan. I am not an expert in this area, but I’ll let the Korean intelligence or the Americans to butt in here and explain what Korea can gain from exchanging military and intelligence information with Japan. But the last thing I will do is believe this guy who was part of RMH’s government with a North Korea friendly policy. It’s the same party today that’s criticizing Lee Myung Bak for first being pro-American, and now pro-Japanese.

    So why do you think Korea wants to sign this pact, other then to advance Korea’s interests? Do you really believe this government is trying to sell the country out to Japan? What’s your thought on this, I’d like to hear.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    See me, supra at 14.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    So very much like you to completely ignore the substance of the entire comment, and hang on to a meaningless parting shot at the end.

    You’re referring to the unintentionally ironic complaints about Japan’s loose handling of intellligence and the very dubious claim that Japan has nothing to offer intelligence-wise, right? I mean, sure, Korea deserves kudos for spotting North Korea’s rocket launch first (they beat even the Americans to it), and compared to the US, Japan’s signal intelligence is probably shit (compared to America’s, EVERYBODY’s signal intelligence is shit), but that’s not really the point, is it? I mean, compared to the signal intel Korea gets from the US, the signal intel it gets from Canada and Russia probably isn’t worth much, but that didn’t stop Seoul from signing intel sharing agreements with them and 22 other countries, did it?

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    ^ Actually, I really don’t care about this issue one way or the other. But I like to rely on experts when I don’t know enough about a given issue, and PSW is as good as anyone — he was on the frontline of Korea’s national security for 4 years, having access to things that less than 20 people in the world would have. I looked through the conservative newspapers, but found nothing that contradicted his points. (Excluding, of course, his clearly politically motivated potshots.) Even ye olde Chosun justified it in terms of U.S.-Korea alliance: http://news.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2012/06/29/2012062900222.html?news_Head1

  • Q

    The problem of 2Mb government would be he lied to Korean citizens about the military agreement. It has serious procedural defect. Based on Korean folklore, hairs are expected to grow further from the liar’s arsehole.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler
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