S.Korea to sign military pact with Japan amid absence of coalition cabinet

SEOUL, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) — South Koreais expected to formally sign a military intelligence pact with Japan later this month in the absence of a coalition cabinet that would be formed by the parliament-proposed prime minister.
Seoul’s foreign ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck told a press briefing on Tuesday that the accord with Japan would be brought to the vice ministers’ meeting as the legislative office completed deliberation on its legality.

South Korea and Japan resumed talks earlier this month on the direct exchange of military intelligence on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)’s nuclear and missile programs.

The two sides initialed the deal on Monday, and it is forecast to be formally signed late in November following internal procedures which include ratifications here in vice ministers’ meeting on Thursday and cabinet meeting next Tuesday. The final procedure would be President Park Geun-hye’s ratification.

President Park, who is grappling with a scandal involving her longtime confidante, has pushed the accord despite public and parliamentary objections as part of efforts to induce the parliament to propose a politically-neutral prime minister and let the prime minister form a coalition cabinet.

The scandal-hit president said she will accept the parliament-proposed prime minister, but three main opposition parties and many of ruling Saenuri Party members refused the president’s overtures, demanding Park step down or impeached.

By hurriedly pushing the military pact with Japan, President Park can indirectly force the opposition bloc to form a new cabinet aimed to prevent the deal from coming into force.

Ostensibly, Seoul has claimed that the intelligence sharing with Japan is an urgent issue amid growing nuclear and missile threats from the DPRK.

The opposition bloc expressed strong objections to the government’s “unilateral” attempt, saying Monday that it will push the resignation or impeachment of Defense Minister Han Min-koo if the initialing of the pact actually happens.

Many South Koreans still see such a deal with Japan as unacceptable as the Japanese leadership has yet to sincerely apologize for its militaristic history. The country was colonized by the Imperial Japan between 1910 and 1945.

Former President Lee Myung-bak attempted to sign the military pact with Japan in June 2012, but it failed at the last minutes amid public outcry over the hurried, closed-door deal without any social consensus and parliamentary consultations.

The Park Geun-hye administration is repeating the hush-hush attempt to sign the deal without any social consensus as public attention is being centered on the scandal involving Park’s decades-long friend.

On Saturday, over a million South Koreans took to the streets in Seoul to demand Park’s resignation. It was the largest mass rally since June 1987 when about 1 million people protested against the military dictatorship.

Source: news.xinhuanet.com

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