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No info shared between Seoul, Tokyo via GSOMIA over N. Korea's missile test: sources

All News 15:21 November 01, 2019

By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, Nov. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Japan did not exchange military information with each other regarding North Korea's test-firing of short-range projectiles this week under the framework of a soon-to-expire bilateral intelligence-sharing pact, military sources here said Friday.

On Thursday, North Korea fired two short-range projectiles toward the East Sea from its western city of Sunchon. The communist country on Friday said that they were from its new "super-large" multiple rocket launcher system.

"Japan did not ask us to share intelligence with regard to the latest firings," a military officer said, adding that South Korea likewise did not seek what Japan has collected regarding the latest test.

But Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday unusually mentioned close cooperation with South Korea in its efforts to guarantee peace and security, according to Japan's Kyodo news.

The two neighbors used to share such information instantly via the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), but such exchanges have been less frequent since South Korea decided in August to terminate the pact after Tokyo expanded export restrictions on Seoul.

The defense ministry has said it will continue to exchange information with Japan, if needed, until GSOMIA's expiration on Nov. 22.

Japan and the U.S. want South Korea to reconsider the decision, and Seoul maintains its stance that it would be possible if Japan retracts the export curbs.

Meanwhile, a military officer rejected allegations that South Korea was 10 minutes slower than Japan in detecting the North's launches this week, insisting that the military learned of the firings earlier than Japan but took more time to ensure accuracy.

"South Korea, together with the U.S., is able to detect such movements faster (than Japan) thanks to geographical features and other circumstances," the officer said.

"In disclosing security information to the public, we focus more on accuracy than speed," he said, adding that it has nothing to do with the military's readiness posture.

Following the decision to end the pact, Japan has made announcements regarding North Korea's missile firings more swiftly than before, which appears to demonstrate its intelligence gathering capabilities, another officer said.


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