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South Korea, Japan to discuss military pact

SEOUL (AP): South Korea and Japan planned military talks Monday on accords to share intelligence and provide each other with fuel and medical support, officials said, in what would be their first military agreement since Tokyo's brutal colonial rule of the Korean peninsula ended in 1945.

Seoul and Tokyo are important trading and diplomatic partners, but the possibility of such a military treaty is a sensitive topic in South Korea, where many people still harbour strong resentment against Japan's 35-year occupation.

Bilateral ties often suffer over territorial and historical disputes stemming from the colonial legacy.

Monday’s talks, however, come as Tokyo and Seoul struggle to deal with a shared worry over North Korean aggression, including the deadly shelling of a front-line South Korean island on Nov 23.

South Korean Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin and his Japanese counterpart Toshimi Kitazawa were to have talks Monday on the military accords, North Korea's nuclear weapons programmes and the artillery attacks, according to the South Korean Defence Ministry.

The accords are aimed at strengthening defence cooperation by sharing important intelligence, mostly on North Korea, and assisting each other's military with fuel and medical supplies during peacekeeping operations abroad, a Defence Ministry official said.

The official, who requested anonymity citing the issue's sensitivity, said the accords won't be signed during Monday's one-day talks. It was unclear when the signing could happen.

Ahead of the defence talks, a dozen activists rallied near the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, chanting slogans like "We oppose (the accords)!" More than 20 police officers guarded the Embassy and watched over the demonstrators.

"How can South Korea-Japan military cooperation be possible without resolving the issue of Japan's past wrongdoing?" the activists asked in a statement distributed at the protest site.

Last year marked the 100th anniversary of Japan's annexation of the Korean peninsula, which ended with Tokyo's defeat in World War II in 1945. Historians say that hundreds of thousands of Koreans were forced to fight as front-line soldiers, work in slave-labour conditions or serve as prostitutes in brothels operated by the Japanese military.


S Korea  Japan  Military  

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