Japan leader says SKorea canceling intel deal damages trust

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Japan leader says SKorea canceling intel deal damages trust
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, center, speaks to reporters following South Korea's announcement that it will terminate an intelligence-sharing deal with Japan, at Foreign Ministry in Tokyo Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. South Korea terminated an intelligence-sharing deal with Japan amid a bitter trade dispute, a surprise decision that is likely to set back U.S. efforts to bolster security cooperation with two of its most important allies in Asia. Kono called the decision "extremely regrettable" and summoned the South Korean ambassador to protest the linking of trade and security issues. (Naoya Osato/Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday said South Korea’s decision to cancel a deal to share military intelligence is damaging mutual trust, and he vowed to work closely with the U.S. for regional peace.

Abe also accused Seoul of not keeping past promises. The military agreement started in 2016.

“We will continue to closely coordinate with the U.S. to ensure regional peace and prosperity, as well as Japan’s security,” he said, ahead of his departure for the Group of Seven summit of industrialized nations in France.

South Korea said it made the decision because Tokyo downgraded South Korea’s preferential trade status, which it said changed the security cooperation between the countries. Seoul says it will downgrade Tokyo as well, a change that would take effect in September.

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 from 1910 to 1945.

Japan denies any retaliation.

Japan has long claimed all wartime compensation issues were settled when the two countries normalized relations under a 1965 treaty.

But South Korea’s Supreme Court last year ruled that the deal did not cover individual rights to seek reparations and has ordered compensations for victims of forced labor under Japan’s imperialist and militarist rule.

South Korea’s latest decision on military intelligence came as a surprise to many, and underlined how much the bilateral relations had deteriorated.

The U.S. sees both South Korea and Japan as important allies in northern Asia amid the continuing threats from North Korea and China.