Japan, South Korea sign preliminary intelligence-sharing pact on North Korea

A police officer stands guard near Japan and South Korea national flags at a hotel in Tokyo, June 22, 2015. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan and South Korea signed a preliminary pact to share and safeguard sensitive information on North Korea’s missile and nuclear activities on Monday, a move that had already prompted anger among opposition lawmakers in Seoul.

The signing of the General Security of Military Information Agreement had originally been expected in 2012, but South Korea postponed it amid domestic opposition against concluding such a security pact with Japan, a one-time colonial ruler.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that discussions in the third round of the talks had reached an agreement and that a provisional signing had taken place.

Discussions would continue ahead of a final signing, which Kyodo news agency said could take place by the end of November.

Reclusive North Korea, which is still technically at war with the South because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, has carried out repeated nuclear and missile tests in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions and sanctions.

Tokyo’s ties with Seoul, plagued by a territorial dispute and Japan’s past military aggression, have warmed after reaching a landmark agreement last December to resolve the issue of Korean girls and women forced to work in Japan’s wartime brothels.

South Korean opposition parties had warned against signing the agreement, threatening to dismiss or impeach Defence Minister Han Min-koo.

Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Nick Macfie