Ties between Japan and South Korea took a turn for the worse after the latter’s top court ruled that a number of Japanese companies could be sued for their use of forced labour during WW II. Japan has protested the decision, claiming that the 1965 agreement had resolved the issue of damages once and for all.
The South Korean government has not yet made a decision on whether it was going to extend the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Japan amid strained bilateral relations and will be considering the issue “until the last moment”, the office of the South Korean president said on Wednesday.
The GSOMIA, signed in 2016, allows both countries to directly exchange classified information, bypassing Washington, which previously acted as a middle man between Tokyo and Seoul.
“The government will review it until the last moment”, Kim Sang-jo, President Moon Jae-in’s chief of staff for policy, said, as quoted by the Yonhap news agency.
He added that Seoul was considering whether it was wise to keep the agreement, with the other party questioning South Korea’s reliability as a partner.
The South Korean government must make the decision regarding its extension by the end of this week, as Tokyo has already indicated a readiness to maintain the pact.
Relations between Tokyo and Seoul soured after the latter’s top court decreed that a number of Japanese companies could be sued for their use of forced labour during World War II. Japan has objected, arguing that the two countries had previously resolved the issue of damages.
On August 2, Tokyo made the decision to stop treating Seoul as a trusted trade partner, adding stricter customs procedures for a total of 1,194 items exported to South Korea.