Asia’s Alliance Triangle: US-Japan-South Korea Relations at by Gilbert Rozman

By Gilbert Rozman

Drawing jointly articles from the recent on-line magazine The Asan discussion board, commissioned from top specialists within the united states, Japan, and South Korea, this ebook reconsiders what we concept we knew in regards to the 3 legs of this alliance triangle.

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Even as Japan-ROK relations remain troubled at the political level, at the working level defense officials working with the US Office of the Secretary of Defense are expanding convergence on issues such as extended deterrence. None of these developments substantially alters the strategic environment Synopsis of the Asan Washington Forum ● 19 seen in June. Even the North-South dialogue, more business-like than before, has achieved no breakthrough that is raising much hope. Events in the summer of 2013 have demonstrated the polarization of positions in a clearer fashion than appeared the case in June when Xi Jinping was signaling to both Obama and Park in summit meetings and, presumably, to Kim Jong-un by refusing to hold a meeting, his displeasure with the North Korean stance and China’s interest in denuclearization.

A third was to concentrate on China by searching for a shared vision of the future of the peninsula. Reviewing some differences among these approaches offers us an entry point to appreciate the nature of the extended discussion. Forcing change is an option raised on the American side to reservations from some of the Koreans. It fills the vacuum in US policy after the battles fought among Bush’s aides and what some perceive as the absence of a plan in the Obama administration, recognizing that over time an incident may spark a dangerous escalation, exposing the limits of what was depicted as passivity.

Several favorable conditions were noted. First, Park and Obama are admired leaders in each other’s country, complementing the positive mutual images of each other strategically, culturally, and economically. Second, partnering in multiple settings already has built considerable momentum. In economic ties, the financial crisis coupled with completion of the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement has spurred closer coordination, 28 ● Gilbert Rozman as in the G-20. As China’s economy enters uncertain times and there is some sign of resurgence in the United States, a successful outcome for TPP with South Korea joining a little later may give a boost to relations.

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