By WENDELL MINNICK, TAIPEI
Japan and the United States are preparing to sign General Security of Military Information Agreements (GSOMIA), say sources in Tokyo.
The announcement is expected to be made later this month in Washington during the “two-plus-two” talks between Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Japanese Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
“Minister Kyuma and Minister Aso are supposed to declare at the two-plus-two meeting that GSOMIA will be signed between the U.S. and Japan. Minister Kyuma has been working on the GSOMIA for about three years. The agreement will be the significant first step to establish the security system on confidential military information, like other allies have,” said Naoki Akiyama, director of the Tokyo-based Congressional National Security Research Group.
The United States has GSOMIA agreements with more than 60 counties. Japan’s decision to go forward with the agreement will allow the United States to share sensitive technical information on a variety of classified weapon systems with Tokyo. Previously, the sharing of sensitive data was on a case-by-case basis, and Tokyo was further encumbered by legislation that made transfers of sensitive information bureaucratic.
The new agreement will allow Japanese companies to work as subcontractors for U.S. defense contractors for the repair and maintenance U.S. military equipment, particularly ships and aircraft that normally have to be sent back to the U.S. for repair.