South Korea said Thursday it is canceling an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan amid a bitter trade dispute, a surprise announcement that is likely to set back US efforts to bolster mutual security cooperation with two of its most important allies in the Asian region, per the AP. South Korea's decision will further aggravate its relations with Japan, which are already at their lowest point since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1965. Japan colonized the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945. Many experts had predicted that South Korea would be unlikely to spike the 3-year-old intelligence-sharing deal for the sake of its relations with the United States. As the New York Times notes, the US pushed for the deal partly to keep a better eye on North Korea's military activity.
Neither Japan nor the US has responded to the move. South Korea's presidential office said it decided to terminate the intelligence deal because Japan's recent decision to downgrade South Korea's trade status caused a "grave" change in security cooperation between the countries. In recent weeks, Japan has imposed stricter controls on exports to South Korea of three chemicals essential for manufacturing semiconductors and display screens—key export items for South Korea—and decided to remove South Korea from a list of countries granted preferential trade status. South Korea accuses Japan of weaponizing trade to punish it over a separate dispute linked to Japan's brutal colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. Japan denies that, saying its steps were taken because of unspecified security concerns.
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