Moon says GSOMIA termination won’t end security cooperation with Japan

Posted on : 2019-11-20 17:40 KST Modified on : 2019-11-20 17:40 KST
S. Korean president defends Seoul’s decision to terminate agreement
South Korean President Moon Jae-in responds to questions during a town hall meeting broadcasted by MBC on Nov. 19. (Blue House photo pool)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in responds to questions during a town hall meeting broadcasted by MBC on Nov. 19. (Blue House photo pool)

“Even if GSOMIA comes to an end, we’ll continue to cooperate with Japan on security matters,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Nov. 19. Moon was referring to the two countries’ General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), which is scheduled to terminate at midnight on Nov. 23.

“Japan provided the reason for terminating GSOMIA. It’s contradictory [for Japan] to declare that [South Korea] can’t be trusted in regard to security and then to call for sharing military information,” Moon said during a Q&A session with members of the general public on Tuesday.

“If Japan doesn’t want GSOMIA to end, it needs to sit down with South Korea and work to resolve [this issue] along with its export controls,” Moon stressed.

In effect, Moon has reiterated the government’s basic stance that GSOMIA can only be extended if the Japanese government rolls back restrictions it has placed on exports to South Korea, a stance that flies in the face of intense pressure from the American government to extend GSOMIA.

Stressing that “South Korea has provided great help as a ‘breakwater’ for Japan’s security while the US has provided its nuclear security umbrella,” Moon said Japan “has paid fewer defense costs to maintain its own security thanks to [South Korea’s] breakwater role.”

“Japan’s national defense expenditures amount to less than 1% of its total GDP. In our case, it’s close to 2.5% or 2.6%,” he noted. “Yet Japan claims that the reason for its export controls is that it ‘cannot trust’ South Korea in security terms.”

“They’re arguing that they cannot trust South Korea because of the risk that essential materials and components for our semiconductors such as hydrogen fluoride that are exported to South Korea could end up in North Korea or a third country where they are used in WMDs or chemical weapons. It’s a self-contradictory stance to propose sharing military information while claiming they cannot trust us with security,” he said.

“Not only are the allegations themselves, but [Japan] imposed its export control measures out of the blue one day without any kind of preliminary demands [that would be expected] if it had those sorts of concerns, such as ‘You need to adopt stronger measures to control export items,’ ‘We want a breakdown of how export items are actually being used,’ or ‘Let’s step up communication between South Korea and Japan,’” he continued.

Regarding the GSOMIA termination decision, Moon said that South Korea “responded as it rightly should have responded.”

“The South Korea-US alliance is central to our security, but trilateral security cooperation with Japan is also very important,” he added. “We also want to cooperate with Japan as much as possible in security terms.”

Hints at behind-the-scenes negotiations for 3rd N. Korea-US summit

Speaking about North Korea’s relations with South Korea and the US, Moon said, “I am certain that if a third North Korea-US summit takes place, it will achieve results,” adding that this would “create some breathing room for inter-Korean relations as well.”

“I believe attempts and efforts are being made by North Korea and the US to hold working-level negotiations and a summit before the end of the year, as both sides have declared,” he said.

“It isn’t directly visible, but a lot of preparations are being made by the South and North and by North Korea and the US,” he continued.

Conceding that the South Korean public “might be disappointed with the lack of momentum in inter-Korean relations,” he went on to explain, “Progress in inter-Korean relations must keep step with the international community, and since there are denuclearization talks underway between North Korea and the US in particular, there is the issue of having to coordinate with our US allies for the success of those talks.”

“I think that if we look at things just in terms of inter-Korean relations, we can generate a lot more momentum and move forward rapidly,” he added.

Referring to an inter-Korean railway linkage effort, Moon said, “If we’re going to improve North Korea’s railways and roads, we need to bring in South Korean items and equipment, which would require a resolution of the UN Security Council sanctions issue, and that ultimately hinges in large part on the success of North Korea-US dialogue.”

According to Moon’s explanation, inter-Korean relations must be coordinated with the North

Korea-US negotiations in order to achieve a third North Korea-US summit, which he has repeatedly declared in the past to be the “final hurdle.”

Addresses topic of volunteer-based military service

Moon also commented on the possibility of adopting a volunteer-based military system, which has recently emerged as a topic of debate.

“Realistically, the conditions are not yet right to implement that. We would need to design something from an intermediate- to long-term perspective,” he said.

Explaining the difficulties of adopting a volunteer-based military, he stressed that the transition would entail “creating a framework where we can cope with the increased costs of a larger number of professional military personnel and higher pay for soldiers.”

At the same time, he said, “We may be able to reduce troop numbers by transitioning to a state-of-the-art scientific equipment-centered military rather than a troop-centered one, and there could be disarmament between South and North Korea if inter-Korean relations continue to progress and peace is established.”

“I think we could envision the adoption of a volunteer-based system in line with those conditions,” he added.

By Lee Je-hun, senior staff writer, and Noh Ji-won and Hwang Geum-bi, staff reporters

Please direct comments or questions to []

button that move to original korean article (클릭시 원문으로 이동하는 버튼)

Related stories

Most viewed articles