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…