A military intelligence sharing pact signed between South Korea and Japan referred to as GSOMIA, expires when the clock strikes midnight on November 23rd.
The termination of GSOMIA, which was triggered by Tokyo's placement of trade curbs on Seoul, is only ten days away but the rift between the two nations only appears to be widening.
The U.S. which has largely facilitated Seoul-Tokyo GSOMIA, is upping pressure on its two Asian allies to talk it out and keep the deal.
Today we go in-depth on the prospects of South Korea-Japan relations with Dr. Lim Eun-jung, associate professor of international studies at Kongju National University.
1. Following visits by senior U.S. officials last week, top U.S. military officials are due in Seoul this week. First of all, how do you see the series of trips to South Korea by U.S. officials?
(Level of Washington's pressure?)
2. President Moon Jae-in has said that GSOMIA is "a matter of principle", while National Security Advisor Chung Eui-yong said that South Korea is willing to review an extension of GSOMIA if Seoul-Tokyo ties are normalized. What is our government's stance now, just days before GSOMIA termination?
3. Japan is also not budging an inch, sticking to its hard-line stance while keeping the trade curbs against South Korea. Not much has changed despite the brief talks between the leaders of Seoul and Tokyo as well as talks between PM Lee Nak-yon and Abe. What is Japan's strategy?
4. Top U.S. officials are making a series of visits to Seoul in a move seen by many as a way to up pressure on South Korea to reconsider scrapping GSOMIA. What are your thoughts on the concerns over a possible dent on the South Korea-U.S. military alliance?
5. U.S. point man for East Asia David Stilwell, during his visit to Seoul, reportedly suggested delaying the termination of GSOMIA to earn time. Is this a feasible option?
6. What happens to the Seoul-Tokyo military cooperation if GSOMIA expires after all? Can TISA, a Seoul-Washington-Tokyo trilateral military pact effectively replace GSOMIA?
7. Defense chiefs of S. Korea, U.S to meet in Thailand this Thursday. The meeting comes in about a year since they last met in October. Expected outcome of the talks? What will likely top the agenda?
8. A trial on damage suit filed by South Korean victims of Japan's wartime sexual slavery finally had its first hearing today after three years of delay. Japan claims that all 'comfort women' related issues had been settled through the 1965 Seoul-Tokyo accord, while also insisting sovereign immunity on the case. Your thoughts?
9. What more needs to be done to repair strained Seoul-Tokyo ties?