Japan, S.korea Defense Ministers Meet

Japan, S.Korea defense ministers meet

The defense ministers of Japan and South Korea are meeting in Thailand, as an intelligence-sharing pact between the two countries is due to expire next Saturday.

It is the first time since Taro Kono assumed his post that he is sitting down with Jeong Kyeong-doo. The two are in Bangkok for a meeting for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its dialogue partners.

South Korea announced in August it would not renew the General Security of Military Information Agreement, or GSOMIA, when it expires on November 23.

Kono is expected to convey the Japanese government's position that scrapping the agreement would be poor judgment in light of the current regional security environment, including North Korea's repeated test firing of ballistic missiles. Kono is then expected to urge a considered response from South Korea.

Jeong has indicated it is preferable that GSOMIA is maintained, but Japan needs to compromise by easing tightened export controls.

A growing number of Japanese officials feel the expiration of the pact is now inevitable.

Kono and Jeong are also expected to hold three-party talks with US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper later in the day.