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    Defense Chiefs of S. Korea, Japan to Enhance Military Cooperation

    Published on January 10, 2011

    Defense chiefs of South Korea and Japan are set to hold talks later Monday in Seoul over better bilateral military ties and a possibility of signing defense pacts in the face of lingering security concerns in the region.

    South Korean defense minister Kim Kwan-jin and his Japanese counterpart Toshimi Kitazawa are expected to discuss issues related to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and a source of mutual security concern for the two countries.

    A pact on protecting shared military information will also take center stage at the meeting, though ministry officials here have said the idea of reaching such an agreement, called the “General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSMIA),” is still at a seminal stage of development.

    The talks come on the heels of a recent high-profile visit to Seoul by Adm. Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, who called for greater cooperation among Seoul, Tokyo and Washington in the wake of “a series of military provocations by Pyongyang”.

    Meanwhile, officials here rejected Japanese media speculation that the two defense ministers are planning to sign a joint declaration on boosting bilateral defense cooperation. Security ties with Japan is a potentially thorny issue in South Korea, a country that had endured 35 years of Japanese colonial rule.