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Asia

Japan, South Korea agree to controversial intelligence deal

After years of discussions, Tokyo and Seoul have agreed to share defense intelligence on North Korea's nuclear program. But opposition parties have decried the pact, saying it recognizes "Japan's military rise."

Japan and South Korea on Monday signed a preliminary deal to share defense intelligence concerning North Korea's nuclear and missile activities, despite resistance from opposition parties and activists.

"It is important that Japan and South Korea cooperate to deal with North Korea's nuclear and missile issues," said Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga.

North Korea has tested nuclear weapons and intercontinental missiles in the face of sanctions and UN Security Council resolutions, sparking concerns in the region.

The Japanese foreign ministry said a third round of discussions led to a tentative pact, and paved a way for an agreement to be signed. The agreement's parties expected to sign it in 2012, but Seoul backed out due to domestic hostility to the pact.

The Tokyo-based Kyodo news agency reported that the final signing of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) will likely take place by the end of November.

'Japan's military rise'

However, South Korean opposition parties have threatened to dismiss or impeach Defense Minister Han Min-koo if the agreement is signed.

"Japan, which once occupied the Korean peninsula and enslaved Koreans with its military might, is still not admitting a lot of its past atrocities," said the opposition Democratic Party in a statement.

The deal marks "the first step towards allowing and recognizing Japan's military rise," the party added, referring to Tokyo's growing military ambitions under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

From 1910 to 1945, Japan controlled the Korean peninsula, leaving behind a legacy of brutal rule.

Relations between the two Asian nations have thawed after a landmark agreement resolved the issue of Korean women forced into sexual servitude by imperial Japan.

ls/se (Reuters, AFP)

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