South Korea on Thursday denied having intentions of shortly signing a bilateral agreement with Japan that would allow the exchange of intelligence and military information about North Korea, Kyodo News reported.
"There has been no progress made in discussing the signing of a treaty on exchanging confidential military information with Japan, and we have no plan to seek the treaty at the moment," South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said to journalists.
The spokesman was responding to news reports that Seoul and Tokyo could discuss signing the accord at senior bilateral defense talks planned for mid-November. Japan is ready to finalize the intelligence-sharing agreement and sees it as a way of improving regional readiness to respond to potential new nuclear and missile threats from North Korea. South Korea, however, is sensitive about directly sharing classified information with its former colonizer.
The South Korean parliament in 2012 tabled signing the bill after a number of lawmakers expressed concerns that the pact was being rushed through without adequate time for public input.
Japanese Vice Defense Minister Masanori Nishi and his South Korean equivalent, Baek Seung-joo, are slated to meet on the margins of a multinational security conference in Seoul, which will take place Nov. 11-13. The two East Asian democracies have not held defense vice-ministerial talks in three years. Tokyo is likely to use the meeting to ask for two-way defense minister talks at a later date, according to Kyodo.
Japan under the leadership of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been reassessing the country's decades-old pacifist defense policy. Tokyo has signaled it might acquire sophisticated missiles for use in a preemptive attack against North Korea and has shown a greater readiness to defend its territorial claims against China. This new posture has alarmed some in the region who still remember Japan's actions before and during World War II.
Russia on Wednesday said it intends to voice its concerns with Japan over an announced plan for the Asian nation to host a second U.S. X-band radar system, RIA Novosti reported.
The forthcoming placement of a long-range AN/TPY-2 radar at the Kyogamisaki air-base was announced earlier this month by Washington and Tokyo. The additional radar is intended to enhance early detection and monitoring of possible North Koran ballistic-missile launches.
"We have many questions regarding the deployment of elements of a U.S. missile defense network in Japan," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov said to the news agency. The matter is expected to be discussed at a planned bilateral government talks in Tokyo on Friday and Saturday.