Friday, June 29, 2012

South Korea shelves disputed military pact with Japan

(Reuters) - South Korea postponed on Friday the signing with Japan of an agreement to share sensitive military information in the face of anger over a pact with a former colonial ruler that critics say was negotiated behind the scenes.

The agreement would have boosted the sharing and protection of data between the two main Asian allies of the United States, in particular on North Korea which is pursuing weapons of mass destruction as it transitions to a new leadership.

While economic ties and cultural exchanges between Japan and South Korea have flourished in recent years, the two economic powerhouses are tangled in a dispute over remote rocky islands while old animosity in South Korea towards Japan runs deep.

"The government is trying to hand deliver this country's classified military intelligence to the Japanese Self Defense Forces," Lee Hae-chan, leader of the liberal opposition Democratic United Party, told a rally at parliament.

The postponement follows growing political pressure on the government of President Lee Myung-bak, which has acknowledged that it had been less than transparent in negotiating the pact that was always likely to touch a nerve with many Koreans.

Japan ruled Korea as a colony from 1910 until the end of the World War Two. Read More