After signing GSOMIA, Japan eyeing bigger military cooperation with South Korea

Posted on : 2016-11-25 16:41 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
South Korean government saying that sensitive classified OPLAN 5027 won’t be shared with Japan under GSOMIA
During the signing of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) on Nov. 23
During the signing of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) on Nov. 23

South Korea and Japan’s signing of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) on Nov. 23 enables the two countries to share sensitive military information, implying that bilateral military cooperation has resumed after a 71-year freeze since normalization of relations. Japan took the first step, and experts believe that it will keep pushing for even closer military cooperation, with the ultimate aim of conducting military activities on the Korean Peninsula.

The reason given by Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga during the regular press briefing on Nov. 24 for military cooperation between the two countries was “North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles,” but he also said that Japan “would continue working for cooperation with South Korea in the area of security.”

The Nov. 24 edition of Japanese newspaper the Mainichi Shimbun described the objective of the information-sharing allowed by this agreement as follows: “What the Ministry of Defense wants is access to information related to the US and South Korea’s operational plans in the event that war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula. South Korea would need to work with the US and South Korea to deal with a large number of refugees, including Japanese [in South Korea], during the ensuing military chaos.” Landing troops from the Japanese Self-Defense Force in South Korea to rescue Japanese citizens is one of Japan’s main goals, and it is a request that Japan has repeatedly made to South Korea.

“Japan is expected to ask for information related to Japanese activities such as providing supplies to US forces in Japan or engaging in search and rescue during a war on the Korean Peninsula,” the Asahi Shimbun predicted. In other words, Japan is likely to use the agreement as grounds to ask South Korea for Operations Plan 5027 (OPLAN 5027), the plan developed by the ROK-US Combined Forces Command in case of war on the Korean Peninsula. OPLAN 5027 is the sort of “level-two classified material” that Japan can access thanks to the signing of this agreement.

Japan’s plans to ask South Korea for OPLAN 5027 hint that the Japanese Self-Defense Force intend to land on the Korean Peninsula if war breaks out there. In Sep. 2015, the Japanese government renamed the Act on Crises in the Area to the Act on Crises with a Major Impact. In this revision, the militaries to which Japan may provide logistical support were expanded from “the US military” to “the US military and other countries’ militaries,” and the definition of “non-combat areas” in which such logistical activities may take place was relaxed from “the open seas” to “areas in which combat is not currently taking place.”

Japan’s ultimate goal is thought to be increasing its influence over the Korean Peninsula. By having a bigger say over military affairs and expanding its involvement in the Korean Peninsula, Japan means to keep South Korea from moving into China’s orbit and to install South Korea as a semi-permanent junior partner in the US-Japan alliance.

When asked about such concerns, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said that “the question of what information will be exchanged will be grounded in complete reciprocity.” It also rejected suggestions made by the Japanese media that OPLAN 5027 would be shared, saying that this was “not on the table.”

By Gil Yun-hyung, Tokyo correspondent

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