SEOUL -- Debate over whether to ditch a pact on sharing sensitive military information has divided South Korea with negative answers coming dominantly from supporters of a conservative main opposition party and conservatives who are more concerned about North Korean military threats that a trade war between Seoul and Tokyo.
The conservative government of South Korea's jailed ex-president Park Geun-hye endorsed the military accord in November 2016 at the height of North Korean missile and nuclear threats, with the blessing of Washington which wants a trilateral security alliance with Seoul and Tokyo. The pact has been mentioned as a target of retribution since Japan restricted exports of key materials for microchips and displays a month ago.
Noh Young-min, chief of staff at the presidential secretariat, told a National Assembly committee on Tuesday that Seoul would complete a serious review by August 24 over whether to scrap the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) that enables Seoul and Tokyo to share military information in the face of common threats.
A survey of 502 adults, conducted by Realmeter, a pollster in Seoul and published on Wednesday, found that 47.7 percent supported the abrogation of the pact, while 39.3 percent answered the other way round. Negative answers were dominant among conservatives and supporters of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party.
When Tokyo excluded Seoul on August 2 from a "white" list of trusted trading partners, South Korean President Moon Jae-in vowed to strike back step by step at Japan's "reckless" trade retaliation. Chung Eui-yong, director of the National Security Council, a high-level security consultation body, stressed that South Korea should make a decision "after a comprehensive review of military and diplomatic conditions."
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