‘Unbelievable’: Seoul to ditch intelligence-sharing deal with Tokyo amid escalating trade row

‘Unbelievable’: Seoul to ditch intelligence-sharing deal with Tokyo amid escalating trade row South Korea will not extend an agreement with Japan on exchanging military intelligence, Seoul announced on Thursday. The two Asian nations are locked in an increasingly bitter row over trade restrictions.

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The deal that allowed both countries to share classified information, the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), is to expire on August 24 without extension, the presidential office announced.

The statement cites Japan’s earlier decision to strike South Korea from its list of most trusted trade partners “without providing clear ground” and said it caused a “grave change in security cooperation circumstances between the two nations,” Yonhap news agency reported.

Tokyo protested against the move, with a senior Japanese defense official calling it “unbelievable”, according to NHK. Its government is considering how to respond to it.

The decision, which came after a lengthy discussion at the National Security Council on Thursday, is likely to affect trilateral cooperation between South Korea, Japan, and the United States.

Washington counts Seoul and Tokyo as its key allies in the Asia Pacific region. GSOMIA was signed in 2016 with the goal of facilitating and speeding up the sharing of military intelligence, primarily on North Korea, and had been extended each year since.

Without it, the flow of information would once again go through the US. In addition to removing South Korea from its whitelist of trading partners, which creates additional red tape for Korean businesses, Japan also curbed export of four strategically important materials necessary for microchip manufacturing. Seoul has removed Japan from its list of countries with maximum trade preferences in retaliation.

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