Japan, U.S., S. Korea Defense Chiefs Agree to Launch Intelligence-Sharing Framework This Year

Yusuke Amano/The Yomiuri Shimbun
From left: Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and South Korean National Defense Minister Lee Jong-Sup pose before a trilateral meeting in Singapore on Saturday.

SINGAPORE — The defense chiefs of Japan, the United States and South Korea met in Singapore on Saturday and agreed to start operating a framework to share information on North Korean missiles by the end of this year.

Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada and his counterparts — U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and South Korean National Defense Minister Lee Jong-Sup — thrashed out details of the framework in response to a series of missile launches by North Korea.

It was the first talks among the defense ministers of Japan, the United States and South Korea since June last year.

The three countries have already agreed on a policy to link the radar systems of Japan and South Korea via the United States to improve their capabilities to respond to North Korean missile launches.

Currently, Japan and South Korea only share information on missile detection and tracking after incidents.

If Japan can access South Korean radar information immediately after a North Korean missile launch, it will improve the performance and accuracy of the Self-Defense Forces’ tracking system.

It would also be advantageous for South Korean forces because they will be able to obtain more information in the event that a missile falls in waters near Japan.

The Trilateral Information Sharing Arrangement concluded by defense authorities of the three nations in 2014 is planned to be utilized for the purpose.

On Saturday, the three countries shared their analysis of a North Korean launch that ended in failure Wednesday, and confirmed close coordination in preparation for a second attempt, which Pyongyang has announced.

Hamada, Austin and Lee reaffirmed opposition to attempts to change the status quo by force and confirmed the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, eying the Chinese military’s coercive activities in the East and South China Seas. The defense chiefs also agreed to hold joint anti-submarine drills regularly.

Hamada was in Singapore for the Asia Security Summit, also known as the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, hosted by Britain’s International Institute for Strategic Studies.