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Japan’s Indo-Pacific dream or nightmare?

28 1 0
22.08.2019

The Indo-Pacific has become marked by substantially increased geopolitical instability. Unfinished political reform, militarization, technological authoritarianism, the politicization of history and great power rivalry are stressing the Indo-Pacific region and dampening Tokyo’s attempts to instill a rules-based order there.

Despite earlier hopes, problems are currently taking place in all corners of Asia.

In Northeast Asia, North Korea continues to test missiles and produce nuclear material while feigning diplomacy toward denuclearization. Notwithstanding the de facto moratorium on the testing of long-range missile and nuclear weapons by Pyongyang, the White House’s diplomacy on the peninsula has little to show for.

Kim Jong Un and North Korea have been normalized as a leader and as a state, despite Pyongyang’s flagrant disregard for human rights, its manufacturing of weapons of mass destruction and its killing with chemical weapons of a North Korean citizen in Malaysia.

Japan has little agency to shift these dynamics and now lies in the front lines of a normalized rogue state with nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

In addition, Japan-South Korea relations have eroded to their lowest point since diplomatic ties were normalized in 1965. The central pillars of stability between the two neighbors in the areas of politics, the military and business have been severely damaged.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in reneged on the 2015 “comfort women” agreement as well as the 1965 agreement between Japan and South Korea in which South Korea agreed not to seek compensation for Japan’s use of wartime labor during Japan’s colonial period in lieu of economic assistance under then-President Park Chung-hee.

Apology fatigue and frustration with the inability of successive South Korean governments to abide by bilateral agreements have resulted in Japan removing South Korea from its list of preferred trading partners for sensitive technologies, deepening the diplomatic divide between Tokyo and Seoul.

The transactional diplomacy from the

White House has done little to bring stability to Japan-South Korea relations. Rather than acting as a peacemaker between Tokyo and Seoul, it has been........

© The Japan Times