Seoul-Tokyo GSOMIA was saved, at least for the time being, as South Korea decided to conditionally extend the termination of the deal on the day it was set to expire.
But tensions surrounding the key military intelligence-sharing pact continue between the two neighbors. over the backdrop of Seoul's last-minute decision.
Soon after Seoul's announcement, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was reported saying that Japan made not a single concession to keep GSOMIA to which the South Korean government filed an official complaint.
Now South Korea says Japan formally apologized for that, but Japan denies that.
Today we go in-depth on the shaky Seou-Tokyo relations and the fate of GSOMIA with Dr. Min Jeong-hun, Professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy.
1. Japan continues to make unverified claims following Seoul's announcement to conditionally extend GSOMIA's expiry. (Just to clarify, the extension refers to the expiration date of the deal, midnight of November 23.) The South Korean government says it has received an apology from Japan's vice foreign minister over such claims but Japan keeps denying it. Why?
2. After weeks of controversy, Seoul and Tokyo have finally agreed to resume talks on trade curbs placed on South Korea by Japan. But the two nations are citing different reasons for the resumption of trade talks. Seoul is saying they agreed to resume trade talks if Seoul keeps GSOMIA, whereas Tokyo is claiming the agreement came as Seoul decided to drop its WTO complaint against Japan's trade curbs, insisting trade curbs and GSOMIA are two different issues. Why are they making contradicting claims?
3. According to reports, Seoul and Tokyo are now discussing pre-arrangements for a director-level talks on Japan's trade curbs. Do you expect some positive progress?
4. South Korea, when making its announcement that it is conditionally extending GSOMIA, made it clear that it may terminate GSOMIA whenever it sees fit. If trade curb talks don't go well, would the fate of GSOMIA be at risk once again?
5. South Korean FM Kang Kyung-wha has met her Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi last week and the two agreed to set the stage for the South Korea-China-Japan summit next month. Do you think the trilateral summit would be an important turning point for Seoul and Tokyo?
6. Meanwhile the U.S. has once again made an official statement on its defense cost-sharing with South Korea. Washington said the extension of GSOMIA and defense cost-sharing negotiations are two separate issues. How do you interpret this?
7. North Korea has strongly criticized the South Korean government's conditional extension of GSOMIA, saying it will only deteriorate inter-Korean relations. How do you see this?
8. The compensation issue of Japan's wartime forced labor, which triggered Seoul-Tokyo trade dispute in the first place, is yet to be resolved and it appears the trade curb talks will face a bumpy road ahead. What are the key points we should keep an eye from now on?