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Opposition parties threaten to oust defense minster over S. Korea-Japan military pact

2016/11/14 10:53

By Song Sang-ho

SEOUL, Nov. 14 (Yonhap) -- Opposition parties on Monday threatened to oust Defense Minister Han Min-koo if his ministry presses ahead with the tentative signing of a military intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo.

South Korea and Japan plan to provisionally ink the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) to enhance cooperation in coping with North Korea's evolving military threats during their talks in Tokyo, Seoul officials said.

Four years ago, the two sides failed to sign the arrangement in the face of strong resistance from opposition parties and civic groups that berated the Seoul government for secretly pushing for a deal without public consent.

"We will take steps to dismiss or impeach the defense minister should (the GSOMIA) be provisionally signed," Woo Sang-ho, floor leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, said during a meeting with senior party members.

Rep. Woo Sang-ho, the floor leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, speaks during the party's Supreme Council session at the National Assembly in Seoul on Nov. 14, 2016. (Yonhap) Rep. Woo Sang-ho, the floor leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, speaks during the party's Supreme Council session at the National Assembly in Seoul on Nov. 14, 2016. (Yonhap)

Woo also pointed out that the general populace, as shown through their massive street protests on Saturday, has been infuriated about the "unilateral" way the government has handled key state affairs.

Citing Pyongyang's growing nuclear and missile threats, the defense ministry has highlighted the importance of stronger security collaboration with Japan, which boasts high-tech intelligence-gathering equipment.

But many citizens are still concerned about any military engagement with their country's onetime colonizer -- in light of the fact that mainstream politicians in Japan refuse to fully atone for their country's wartime misdeeds. Japan colonized the Korean Peninsula from 1910-45.

Park Jie-won, the interim leader of the minor opposition People's Party, also warned that if the defense ministry pushes for the signing of the GSOMIA, the three opposition parties, including the Justice Party, will join forces to seek the dismissal or impeachment of the defense chief.

sshluck@yna.co.kr

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