S. Korea Suspends First Military Accords with Japan
South Korea has suspended the signing of agreements on military cooperation with Japan, a defense official said Thursday, citing public sentiment.
Defense Minister Kim Kwan-Jin was to visit Tokyo this month to sign the accords, which would be the first of their kind since Tokyo's brutal colonial rule over Korea ended in 1945.
One pact would let the two nations share intelligence on North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and carry out joint sea search and rescue operations.
The other would allow for cooperation in logistics, excluding weapons, and service in peacekeeping operations abroad.
"Kim has postponed his plan to visit Tokyo. He will cautiously handle this issue in consideration of public sentiment," a Defense Ministry spokesman told AFP.
Opposition politicians have opposed such military accords as many older people in South Korea still have bitter memories of Japan's colonial rule.
The two countries are also involved in a territorial dispute over rocky islets claimed by both sides in the Sea of Japan (East Sea). The row has triggered a series of protests in South Korea.
Tokyo has also rejected Seoul's proposal to hold talks on compensation for the use of Korean women as military sex slaves during World War II.
Japan says all colonial issues were settled in a 1965 compensation deal that led to the normalization of relations.
Some analysts say military accords with Japan would spark strong opposition from China and North Korea, who would consider them a strengthening of the U.S.-led alliance in the region.