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Can the U.S. turn South Korea and Japan's sour relations into a strong alliance? Updated: 2021-05-10 05:56:50 KST

Intelligence chiefs from South Korea, the United States and Japan are likely to meet this week in Tokyo, according to Japanese media.
This comes after the three countries' top diplomats held their first trilateral talks in over a year, as well as a three-way meeting of their military chiefs in Hawaii the week before.
Since the Biden Administration took office, the U.S. has been pushing for stronger trilateral cooperation amid major regional security challenges -- the nuclear threat from North Korea and the intense rivalry between Washington and Beijing. But to make the three-way relationship work, Seoul and Tokyo will have to overcome their dispute over contentious historical issues.
Today we discuss the way forward for South Korea and Japan, and their cooperation with the U.S.
For this, we have Kim Byoung-joo, Professor at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies here in Seoul.
We also connect with Jonathan Berkshire Miller, Senior Fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs.


1. Professor Kim: South Korea and Japan's foreign ministers held a separate meeting after their trilateral talks with Anthony Blinken last week but it was reportedly a very awkward affair, and perhaps understandably so as Tokyo had published its diplomatic bluebook just days before, taking its usual hardline stance against Seoul on areas of conflict. What did you make of this meeting, and do you think Seoul and Tokyo have enough political will to actively mend their ties at this point?


2. Mr. Miller: There's a flurry of security-related meetings taking place between the three countries but is there enough political will to patch things up diplomatically between Seoul and Tokyo? Is it even possible for the two neighbours to narrow their differences, or is forced civility the best they can do?


3. Professor Kim: Until now, the U.S. has avoided getting too involved in the rift between the two neighbours, but if it wants to see them strengthen ties, will it have to play a greater role?

4. Mr Miller: Same question to you. Will Washington have to get a lot more involved if it wants to strengthen its alliances in the Asia Pacific?


5. Professor Kim: Both S. Korea and Japan are set to suffer economic losses if they're to keep their distance from China. What are areas South Korea and Japan could start cooperating on?


6. Mr. Miller: I'd like to hear your thoughts on this too. What are some areas of common ground, and what's the first step to building a "future-oriented" relationship?

7. Professor Kim: What do you think should be the first step towards creating better ties?

That was Kim Byoung-joo, Professor at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and Jonathan Berkshire Miller, Senior Fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs. Thank you for your time.
(Seoul)

(Ottawa)


Reporter : osy@arirang.com
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