Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday urged South Korea to restore trust and keep promises made between the two countries following Seoul's announcement that it will scrap a bilateral military intelligence-sharing pact.
"Regrettably, South Korea is continuing to hurt relations of trust," Abe told reporters, also citing top court rulings last year ordering Japanese firms to pay compensation to people who say they were used as forced laborers during Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
Tokyo has argued that the South Korean court decisions run counter to a 1965 bilateral agreement in which the two countries said they settled the compensation issue "finally and completely," criticizing Seoul for violating an international treaty.
Abe said Japan has been handling relations with Seoul amid the current tensions "so as not to produce a negative impact on cooperation between Japan, the United States and South Korea in light of the current security situation in Northeast Asia."
"Japan will secure peace and stability in the region by firmly working together with the United States," the premier said at his office.
Later Friday, South Korea formally notified Japan of its decision to pull out of the General Security of Military Information Agreement, or GSOMIA.
It had said that Tokyo's recent tightening of export controls on some materials, crucial to the South Korean technology industry, has created a "grave change" in conditions for bilateral security cooperation.
Tokyo has viewed GSOMIA as an important component of bilateral security cooperation in dealing with North Korea, which has carried out a series of short-range ballistic missile tests in recent weeks.
Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya expressed disappointment at the decision and claimed South Korea has "completely misread" the current security environment. He said Japan will ask South Korea to "reconsider" its decision to allow the GSOMIA to expire in November.
Signed in November 2016, the pact was facing a deadline on Saturday for either side to express their intent to pull out. Without such notification, it would have been automatically extended for another year.
The termination of the pact raises the stakes in a deepening diplomatic row between Tokyo and Seoul that began over wartime history and broadened to include trade affairs.
Japanese trade minister Hiroshige Seko told reporters the decision is "entirely unacceptable" and that his ministry will continue enforcing its tightened export controls on South Korea.
On Thursday evening, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono summoned South Korean Ambassador to Japan Nam Gwan Pyo to lodge an official protest against the decision.