This article was published by The Japan Times Online on August 1, 2012. To read the entire article, please click here.
The trilateral joint naval exercises conducted by Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United States on June 22-23rd seemed to indicate that security relations between the two longtime American allies were getting closer. In the months leading up to the exercise, Tokyo and Seoul were in talks to finalize a General Security of Information Agreement (GSOMIA) and Acquisition and Cross-Service Agreement (ACSA), both of which would foster closer security cooperation. GSOMIA would enable the ROK and Japan to share intelligence, while the ACSA would allow the two countries to exchange military supplies and logistic support. However, at the last second, President Lee Myung Bak was forced to cancel the two agreements due to overriding opposition from within the ROK.
Yuki Tatsumi and Jeffrey W. Hornung’s article examines the various factors that contributed to the fall out of these two agreements and the difficulties confronting the Japanese-ROK security relationship. Despite what appears to be decades of forward progress, historical animosities continue to strain Japan-ROK relations. Yet, in such a dynamic region, closer security relations between the two countries could not only help to ensure regional stability, but also to assist with broader global security issues. If the two countries wish to deepen their bilateral relations, working through the US-Japan-ROK trilateral alliance may be the best option for now. However, it will be imperative that Japan and South Korea do not miss another opportunity to improve their bilateral security cooperation.