Japan on Wednesday said it stood ready to ink a military intelligence sharing agreement with South Korea that has been promoted as a tool for improving regional efforts to protect against North Korean attacks, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
Seoul last summer tabled a bill to approve the bilateral intelligence cooperation accord, following concerns that then-President Lee Myung-bak was trying to push the agreement through too quickly to allow for adequate public debate.
"Japan is willing to sign the military intelligence sharing pact with South Korea at any time," Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Koro Bessho said to reporters.
Increasing Tokyo-Seoul military links could discourage North Korea from carrying out new provocations and furthering its nuclear weapons work, the ambassador said.
Suspected intermediate-range Musudan ballistic missiles were last week detected deployed on North Korea's east coast, raising alarms that a launch of some sort was imminent. Pyongyang was also believed to have moved shorter-range missiles for possible firing.
"We're seeing nothing in the D.P.R.K. that suggests that anything is going to threaten the R.O.K.," an anonymous high-ranking U.S. military official informed journalists. "If anything, the missiles may be shot into the waters, like it was done back in 2009. We're seeing nothing to back up any kind of hostile actions that the D.P.R.K. used to take."
U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and his South Korean opposite, Gen. Jung Seung-jo, are scheduled on Thursday to conduct a video conference call on bilateral efforts to deter North Korean attacks and the future of their allied military command framework, according to Yonhap.