From CBSnews.com, June 29, 2012:
Japan and South Korea on Friday agreed to share intelligence in their first joint military pact since World War II.
The agreement is seen as a breakthrough in ties between two neighbors with a difficult history. Japan ruled Korea as a colony for several decades until the end of World War II in 1945, and Seoul has often been wary of Japan’s postwar military development, but the nations have many shared concerns, particularly North Korea and China.
The pact establishes a framework for sharing intelligence in such areas as missile defense, North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, Chinese military operations and other regional security matters.
It was previously approved by South Korea, and Japan’s Cabinet gave its final approval Friday ahead of a formal signing ceremony.
“Considering the security situation in east Asia, it is very significant for us to create the foundations for sharing information,” said Japan’s foreign minister, Koichiro Genba. “I think this is a very historic event.”
The pact reflects deepening mutual concerns that more cooperation is needed to enhance security readiness.
The two countries are increasingly concerned by potential threats from North Korea, which is developing its long-range missile and nuclear weapons capabilities. They are also closely watching the rise of China’s military.
North Korea heightened regional tensions in April with the launch of a rocket that was widely criticized as a test of long-range missile technology. The launch was of particular concern to Seoul and Tokyo because they are within reach of the North’s missile arsenal.
Such fears spurred the government efforts to cooperate more closely on intelligence sharing, though the pact remains controversial among some in South Korea.
“An accord for military-information protection with Japan is necessary given the ever-growing threat from the North,” South Korea’s JoongAng Daily newspaper said in an editorial. “The more quality information we have about the North, the better our security.”
But critics say the government in Seoul, fearing a backlash from opponents who don’t trust Japan, pushed the pact through without allowing enough public debate.
Along with bitter memories from Japan’s often brutal colonial rule of Korea, the two countries remain at odds over a territorial dispute that has marred their relations.