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Frayed Japan-S Korea ties should not affect security issues: Abe

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday criticized South Korea's decision last month to end a bilateral military intelligence-sharing pact, saying the worsening of bilateral ties should not affect security cooperation.
"Our consistent stance is that (the status of) the bilateral relationship should not affect security issues. It's deeply regrettable that South Korea unilaterally notified us of the termination," Abe said at a press conference in New York.
Abe made the remarks hours after he touched on Japan-South Korea ties in his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump on the fringes of the U.N. General Assembly. Abe explained Japan's stance to Trump "in detail," a senior Japanese government official said without elaborating.
Tokyo-Seoul relations have worsened sharply since a series of South Korean court rulings last year ordered Japanese companies to compensate for wartime forced labor during Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
Japan has maintained that the issue of compensation was finally and completely settled under a 1965 bilateral accord, urging South Korea to follow through on the agreement.
Seoul's decision to terminate the General Security of Military Information Agreement in November came after the Asian neighbors also locked horns over trade when Tokyo tightened its export controls on some South Korea-bound materials and took Seoul off its list of preferred trading partners.
South Korea later dropped Japan from its own list of trusted trading countries in a tit-for-tat move.
Seoul cited Japan's tightening of export controls in its decision to scrap the GSOMIA, saying it changed the security situation and made it inappropriate to share sensitive information. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed disappointment shortly after South Korea announced the decision.
During the press conference, Abe said the wartime labor and trade issues are "not linked at all," though mutual trust has been undermined.
"We will continue to urge South Korea to keep promises made between states," Abe said.
The premier also said the tightening of Tokyo's export controls on some South Korea-bound items is in line with free trade frameworks such as the World Trade Organization and would not affect Japan's trade with other countries.


© KYODO
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