Japan, the United States and South Korea have agreed to upgrade their security relationship to enable real-time monitoring of missiles launched by North Korea. The countries will activate the new data-sharing mechanism by the end of the year.
The trilateral agreement came during a meeting in Singapore on Saturday attended by Japanese Defense Minister Hamada Yasukazu, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup. The defense chiefs met on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, a security forum in Asia.
The three condemned North Korea’s recent claimed space launch using ballistic missile technology, as it constitutes a “serious violation” of relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Pyongyang announced after the failed launch that it will conduct another launch soon.
The joint statement says the defense chiefs renewed their mutual determination to respond firmly to the North Korean threat. The statement says the three “recognized trilateral efforts to activate a data sharing mechanism to exchange real-time missile warning data before the end of the year.” They also agreed to “make further progress toward operationalizing the trilateral mechanism initially over the next few months.”
The three also committed to regularizing defensive exercises that contribute to strengthening their combined responses to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. The statement says the US reaffirmed its “steadfast alliance commitments” to Japan and South Korea, “backed by the full range of U.S. capabilities, including nuclear.”
The agreement is seen as a significant step toward enhancing trilateral security cooperation amid growing tensions with North Korea. The three countries have been sharing missile data through bilateral channels, but not in real time. The new mechanism will allow them to share information more quickly and accurately, which could improve their ability to intercept missiles or take other countermeasures.
The meeting also marked the first face-to-face talks between Hamada and Lee since Japan’s new defense minister took office in April. The two reportedly agreed to continue dialogue and cooperation for regional peace and stability.