ROK-Japan military cooperation may be last straw for Park Geun-hye administration

China Military
Zhang Tao

BEIJING, Nov. 24, (ChinaMil) -- The Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japanese governments signed the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in Seoul on November 23.

ROK's public opinions and opposition parties accused the Park Geun-hye administration of being ridiculous as it continued to push the ROK-Japan military cooperation against public opposition while still deeply embroiled in the "Choi Soon-sil gate".

The GSOMIA may become a new "poison" for Park's administration and trigger an even stronger political storm.

ROK's Lee Myung-bak administration planned to sign the GSOMIA with Japan in June 2012, but had to call it off on the day of signing because of vehement domestic opposition as the deal was suspected of under-the-table operation.

This time, however, the Park Geun-hye administration suddenly announced to restart the negotiation on October 27 even though the "Choi Soon-sil event" was worsening, and sped up all the necessary procedures.

Yoo Il Ho, ROK Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Strategy and Finance, presided over a state conference on the morning of November 22, at which the attendees voted to pass the GSOMIA and it was approved by President Park Geun-hye that very afternoon.

ROK Defense Minister Han Min-koo and Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Yasumasa Nagamine signed the GSOMIA on November 23 on behalf of each government.

The agreement took effect without the approval of ROK national assembly. Korean media called it a "raid" by the Park administration by circumventing public opinions.

Why is the ROK government in such a hurry to sign the agreement with Japan? ROK media and analysts said the Park administration had several considerations in mind.

First, it wants to solve this sensitive issue once and for all as the political chaos caused by the "Choi Soon-sil gate" is diverting public attention.

Second, conservative forces and military groups in ROK that are keen on the security issue hope to push the ROK-Japan and ROK-US military cooperation before Park Geun-hye loses all her power, including signing the GSOMIA and accelerating the THAAD deployment.

Third, Park Geun-hye takes this move to show that she still has authority as president. A security expert from Seoul National University said that Park Geun-hye wanted to show she was still the "commander" who had control over security and other important issues despite the domestic political vortex.

Fourth, having lost public support within the country, the Park administration tried to seek external support by catering to the US and Japan. Yonhap News Agency pointed out that GSOMIA was closely related with the US-Japan-ROK military alliance dominated by the US and it has been pressuring ROK to sign the agreement as soon as possible.

ROK Defense Ministry claimed that the agreement will enable ROK and Japan to jointly deal with threats from the DPRK, but critics commented that the agreement gave Japan much more political and military benefits from ROK than ROK got from Japan.

According to ROK media, military cooperation is a sensitive topic in ROK-Japan cooperation. Especially as the Abe administration takes a seriously distorted view on history and militarism is rising in Japan, ROK's enhanced military cooperation with "Japan, a country that may launch a war", will lead to dangerous consequences.

In the latest survey conducted by polling organization "Gallop Korea", 60 percent of South Koreans were against the GSOMIA.

As public support has fallen to a freezing point, Park administration's willfulness will further infuriate the ROK people. ROK's three main opposition parties planned to jointly call for the dismissal of Defense Minister Han Min-koo on November 30, and massive public protests are still ongoing in Seoul demanding Park Geun-hye to step down.

Wang Junsheng, an expert on the Korean peninsula issue from Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that Park Geun-hye ignored public opinions, bypassed the National Assembly and insisted on having her way on the GSOMIA. Although there is no way to stop her on the legal level, she may still be called a "traitor" by ROK people.

Yonhap commented that the GSOMIA between ROK and Japan may trigger a stronger political storm and become the last straw for the Park administration.

Disclaimer : The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article are those of the author named Du Baiyu from Xinhua News Agency, and do not reflect the views of does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same. If the article carries photographs or images, we do not vouch for their authenticity.


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