South Korea calls off defence meetings and military exchange programmes with Japan
WAM SEOUL, 29th December, 2013 (WAM) — South Korea has called off a series of proposed defence meetings and military exchange programmes with Japan, according to a government source, reflecting growing uneasiness over the Japanese prime minister’s controversial war shrine visit.
Deputy defence ministers of the two Asian neighbours last month held a meeting on the sidelines of the Seoul Defence Forum and agreed to work together to facilitate exchanges between working-level officials by signing a Memorandum of Understanding.
Following the Japanese Prime Minister’s visit to the Yasukuni shrine Thursday, Seoul’s defence ministry decided to cancel the plan as well as other military exchange programmes scheduled for early next year.
“There was a consensus within the South Korean government that working-level military officials need to exchange intelligence although the two nations haven’t signed a military intelligence sharing pact,” the source said, asking for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue. “Seoul officials showed a positive response to a Memorandum of Understanding between defence policy departments as requested by Japan.” The two nations last year came close to signing a military pact on boosting exchanges of military intelligence on North Korea, but Seoul dropped the plan due to a wave of opposition from the public. Many South Koreans still resent Japan for its brutal rule over the Korean Peninsula from 1910-1945.