Japan's defense minister on Tuesday expressed hope that military intelligence would be smoothly shared again with South Korea after its foreign minister said an accord once on the brink of termination under a previous administration should be normalized.

"I hope there will be exchanges between the two sides toward smoother operation" of the General Security of Military Information Agreement, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said.

His comments at a press conference came after South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin said in Washington, "We want GSOMIA to be normalized as soon as possible together with the improvement of Korea-Japan relationship."

Under new South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who took office last month, the two neighboring countries are harboring hopes of mending their political ties after they were badly damaged by disagreements over wartime issues.

Japan's top government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno also underscored the significance of the agreement, saying it "strengthens cooperation and partnership in the field of security between Japan and South Korea, and contributes to regional peace and stability."

"Given the severe security environment, including North Korea repeatedly firing ballistic missiles, the stable operation (of GSOMIA) is important," he said.

North Korea has fired a slew of missiles this year and it is feared it may soon conduct its first nuclear test since 2017.

GSOMIA has allowed Japan and South Korea, which have no military alliance, to directly share sensitive intelligence information.

While Tokyo and Seoul averted the termination of GSOMIA, the agreement has been left in an unstable state as bilateral ties were strained under the previous administration of Moon Jae In, who had made clear the pact could be scrapped anytime.


Related coverage:

South Korea eager to normalize intelligence-sharing pact with Japan