South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se, right, ushers his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida at the start of their meeting at Foreign Ministry in Seoul Monday, Dec. 28, 2015. (Jung Yeon-je/Pool Photo via AP)
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North Korea's nuclear test this week set off alarm bells in Japan and South Korea, but its more enduring outcome may be the cementing of a fragile reconciliation that could lead to military cooperation between the two key U.S. allies.Japan and South Korea reached a landmark agreement last month to resolve the issue of "comfort women" forced to work in Japan's wartime military brothels, which had been an emotive impediment to better ties. The Japanese and South Korean defense ministers were due to speak on Friday night.The distance between South Korea and Japan has worried Washington as it increasingly relies on its Asian allies to work together to guarantee security in the region amid China's growing military might.Past strains have prevented Japan and South Korea from agreeing to share sensitive military information. An attempt to institutionalize security cooperation through the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in 2012 failed after significant domestic opposition in South Korea.
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