Seoul (CNN)Japan and South Korea, once bitter enemies, have agreed to their closest military cooperation since the end of World War II.
The deal, which has been in the pipeline for five years, will allow both countries to share military intelligence directly without using the US military as an intermediary.
Washington, a close ally of both countries, has long encouraged better relations between the two, even though many in South Korea are critical of the pact.
A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry was critical of the deal, predicting it would increase “insecurity and instability in Northeast Asia.”
The timing of the intelligence pact has also angered opposition parties, coming as South Korean President Park Geun-hye fights for her political survival.
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in recent weeks calling for Park’s resignation, while prosecutors named her as a suspect in an ongoing corruption investigation Sunday.
“The Park administration has already lost its legitimacy so she should immediately take her hands off (national affairs),” said Lee Jae-jeong, spokeswoman for the Minjoo opposition party, in a statement.
While emotions are running high, the deal makes sense, according to Daniel Pinkston of Seoul’s Troy University.
“For anyone who ultimately (is) in charge of and responsible for state security, why would she or he decline to receive critical intelligence?” he asked. “It would be irresponsible and a dereliction of duty not to.”