South Korea to scrap intelligence-sharing pact with Japan amid history feud
Robie de Guzman • August 23, 2019 • 321
South Korea said on Thursday (August 22) it will scrap an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, a decision that could further escalate a dispute over history and trade and undercut security cooperation on North Korea.
The decision was announced after an hours-long debate within the presidential National Security Council (NSC).
Japan created a “grave change” in the environment for bilateral security cooperation by removing South Korea’s fast-track export status, citing security concerns without providing clear evidence, said Kim You-geun, a deputy director of the National Security Council.
The General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) was due to be automatically renewed on Saturday (August 24), unless either side decided to cancel it. (Reuters)
People in Tokyo, Japan on Tuesday (May 26) woke up to their first day with loosened social distancing curbs, after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the state of emergency for all areas in the country on Monday (May 25).
Tokyo and the three surrounding prefectures, as well as Hokkaido were the last remaining areas under emergency.
Many residents welcomed the government’s decision to end the emergency, though most said they are still alert for the virus since more people are out on the streets.
“I’m still a bit worried. There may be a second wave of an epidemic so we still need to be alert,” said 45-year-old Naoto Furuki who said the trains were a lot more crowded with commuters this morning.
With the emergency order lifted, Tokyo will move into “stage one” of loosening restrictions, allowing libraries and museums to reopen, and restaurants to stay open until later in the evening. Subsequent stages would see theatres, cinemas and fairgrounds reopen.
Company employee Daisuke Tominaga is happy that the emergency state is over, saying that the Japanese economy will collapse if businesses and people have to continue to live under restrictions.
“I want to go out drinking and attend concerts,” he said enthusiastically.
Many shops and restaurants have restarted operations since the government began lifting the emergency in rural and suburban areas earlier this month, but some stores remain closed. (Reuters)
(Production: Kim Kyung-Hoon, Akiko Okamoto, Travis Teo)
South Korea’s largest airline Korean Air has enacted social distancing measures to protect travelers to allow for a return to the skies during the global coronavirus pandemic.
Starting from Monday (May 18), the airline has made it necessary for all passengers and staff on board to wear face masks, but other social distancing measures such as leaving empty seats between passengers began on March 9.
On Tuesday (May 19) hundreds of domestic travelers were seen in Seoul’s Gimpo Airport wearing face masks and scanning their own boarding passes during boarding.
South Korea’s aviation regulator is also requiring travelers’ temperatures be checked in airports. Airport authorities are also asking travelers to stand at least 1 meter (3 ft) apart and regularly apply hand sanitizer. (Reuters)
(Production: Dogyun Kim, Minwoo Park, Heejung Jung)
South Korean officials scrambled on Monday (May 11) to contain a new coronavirus outbreak that is threatening to spread throughout the densely populated capital city of Seoul, leading the country to reconsider plans to reopen schools.
Officials reported 35 new infections across the country as of midnight on Sunday (May 10), the second consecutive day of new cases of that magnitude and the highest numbers in more than a month, reinforcing fears the country could be entering a second wave outbreak.
Most of the new cases were linked to an outbreak at several Seoul nightclubs and bars. Authorities had tested 4,000 people who had patronised the night spots, but were still trying to track down around 3,000 more.
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon pleaded with clubgoers to be tested, warning that people caught evading testing could be fined.
“If Seoul was infiltrated, the Republic of Korea will be infiltrated,” he said, noting the city currently has fewer than 700 of the nation’s 10,909 cases, which include 256 deaths.
The spike in cases comes just as the South Korean government was easing some social distancing restrictions and moving to fully reopen schools and businesses, in a transition from intensive social distancing to “distancing in daily life.” (Reuters)
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