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  • Author: Yuki Tatsumi
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Abe Shinzo is the longest-serving prime minister in post-World War II Japan. Having occupied the office since December 2012, Abe has attempted to leverage his stable tenure to increase Japan’s international presence. In particular, Abe has tried to reshape the way Japan conducts its foreign policy, from being responsive to proactive. “A proactive contribution to peace with international principle” or chikyushugi o fukansuru gaiko (diplomacy that takes a panoramic view of the world map) symbolizes his government’s approach, part of an earnest attempt to remain relevant on the international scene even as the country grapples with irreversible trends including population decline and aging.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia
  • Author: Nathan Beauchamp-Mustafaga, Scott W. Harold
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: North Korea’s ballistic missile program has long been a concern for the United States, South Korea, and Japan. Foreign researchers have increasingly leveraged advanced open source intelligence technology and cooperated across countries to track the North’s developments over the last 25 years. But one country has been left out – China. Are there open source Chinese analyses of DPRK ballistic missiles, do they align with U.S. assessments, and is there anything for other researchers to gain from reading these analyses? This report examines Chinese assessments of North Korean ballistic missile capabilities between 1998 and 2017. We find that Chinese analysts have paid growing attention to the North’s missile capabilities but are still not as attentive as Western observers, from whom they draw most of their information and analytic insights. Chinese analyses broadly mirror Western experts’ conclusions about the state of North Korea’s missile capabilities, most notably that North Korea has a functional, if not fully perfected, intercontinental-range ballistic missile (ICBM) that can reach the United States with a nuclear weapon. However, there is little original Chinese analysis that would enhance foreign experts’ preexisting understanding of DPRK missiles.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Weapons , Research
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Troy Stangarone, Juni Kim
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: KEI’s 2020 Report on American Attitudes Toward the Korean Peninsula focuses on U.S. views on relations with South Korea, U.S. awareness of South Korean brands and cultural products, and views on North Korea and was conducted by YouGov. The results reveal that while Americans have a favorable view of South Korea and about half are supportive of maintaining U.S. troops on the Korean Peninsula, few Americans watched or listened to Korean cultural products in the last year. Americans also view North Korea as one of the three critical challenges for the United States, but fewer than 1-in-3 approve of the administration’s handling of North Korea.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Economics, Human Rights, Politics, Culture, Public Opinion, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: North America, Korean Peninsula, United States of America
  • Author: Kitti Prasirtsuk
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: The rise of China generally presents both opportunities and challenges, particularly in economic terms. In the past several years, new kinds of challenges have been emerging and are looming larger in ASEAN countries. While ties with Beijing are, by and large, cordial, there are several signs that relations below the state level are increasingly worrisome. First, Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) is largely not oriented towards manufacturing. A considerable amount tends to be in non-real sectors, such as real estate and casinos, which may not generate much employment and can be unhealthy to local economies. Second, the way Chinese businesses expand tends to be predatory, as demonstrated in tourism-related businesses and the acquisitions of fruit businesses in Thailand. As a consequence, new Chinatowns are emerging as more Chinese are moving into the region. Third, even business expansion through the Chinese government, e.g., the train projects, is far from smooth. ASEAN countries find themselves in uneasy deals – including onerous loan terms, undue requests for land usage along the train lines, stringent technology transfers, and imported Chinese labor. Moreover, the recent COVID-19 outbreak reveals not only the fragility of economic overdependence on China, but also public resentment towards the Chinese. Overall, the relations at the level of business and the people are far from promising, which can become a risk factor in state-to-state relations. The situation apparently demands good management from both Beijing and the counterpart governments.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Economics, ASEAN, COVID-19, Real Estate
  • Political Geography: China, Malaysia, Asia, Vietnam, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Matthew Goodman
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: The Abe administration has adopted a strategy that combines three main lines of effort: enhanced diplomatic and economic engagement with Beijing; hedging and balancing, including deepening integration with other countries of the Indo-Pacific region and attempting to keep the United States engaged in the Indo-Pacific region; and leadership on regional and global economic rule-making. The main strands of this approach are likely to continue after Abe leaves office, though uncertainty surrounds them all.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia
  • Author: Charles W. Boustany Jr.
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: American ideals coupled with the commercial self-interest of American business and industry drove the policy of engagement, and even after the 1989 massacre of student protesters at Tiananmen Square, sustained momentum for China’s accession into the WTO. Despite China’s known unfair trade practices, it was thought that problems would eventually disappear as China adopted rules and norms as conditions of its accession to the WTO while deepening its integration into the global trading system. Yet, despite this strategy of engagement, China has not implemented expected substantive structural reforms consistent with the spirit, if not the letter, of its WTO obligations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Economics
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Brad Glosserman
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: While the sources of contention are deep and enduring, relations between Japan and South Korea have been especially troubled in the last few years. The two countries are grappling with deeply entrenched, emotional legacies that have been inflamed by recent controversies, rendering history both immediate and real. This chapter explores Japan’s perception of and reaction to those events. While it aims to provide an objective assessment of Japanese thinking, it does not purport to be even-handed or balanced. It is an analysis of the Japanese view of the relationship with South Korea. To be brief and blunt, Japanese are frustrated with and angered by South Koreans. Frustrated because they have been unable to build a future with them that rests on a foundation of shared concerns and values; domestic politics continues to override strategic interests. Angry because Korean complaints deny the many changes that have occurred in Japan since the end of World War II. Japanese do not deny that atrocities took place, but they are offended when they are laid at the feet of current generations. A growing number of Japanese believe that Koreans prefer to occupy the moral high ground over building a mutually beneficial long-term partnership. This belief increasingly colors the way that Korean actions and statements are interpreted.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Partnerships
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia
  • Author: Cheol Hee Park
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: South Korean views of Japan are neither uniform nor unified. Considering that national strategic identities are competing even within a single country, it is not strange at all that South Koreans have complex and fragmented views of Japan. Depending on their ideological and dispositional orientations, South Koreans hold varying perceptions about Japan. It is much more so in the age of ideological polarization. Not only in the United States, but also in South Korea, identity politics more and more dominate. Widespread social networking service communications made tribal communications, instead of mass communications, permeate the society, which strengthened the trend of polarization. Increasingly people do not cross over ideological divides or social cleavage lines, creating islands of tribes to convince themselves in a particular way. The combination of ideological divide and tribal communications opens an unexplored political domain of contending views in a society. This chapter aims to delineate the development of complex and divided South Korean views of Japan, especially under the Moon administration. It shows South Korea divided within. Then it analyzes the rise of anti-Japanese elements in Moon’s handling of Japan affairs after 2017. Careful analysis of the Moon government’s posture toward Japan reveals that such aspects can be visibly identified. I also analyze the political background of rising anti- Japanese elements within the ruling party of South Korea, while attempting to show that alternative views of Japan are widely available despite the Moon government’s generally negative posture toward Japan. Based on a review of newspaper columns and civic initiatives for reconciling with Japan, this study further illustrates the existence of modest alternative views that are different from the government position. This clearly reflects that South Korea’s discursive space remains relatively democratic and plural. Finally, I address the question of whether political and diplomatic tensions would increase or decrease in the process of South Korean and Japanese interactions. Prescriptions are highly conditional in a sense that the level of tensions will be determined by the way interactions address the issues in contention. I take the position that there is not a single view but multiple and divided views of Japan in South Korea, particularly under the Moon administration. Although the Moon government contains a strong anti-Japanese and nationalist orientation, conservative intellectuals keep a moderate, cooperative stance toward Japan. One can find increasing diversity despite intense bilateral controversies over contemporary and past issues. I conclude that tensions between South Korea and Japan originate from political elites, rather than the general populace. Narrowing the perception gap between political leaders may be easier to do in bettering the relationship.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Public Opinion, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, South Korea
  • Author: Scott W. Harold
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: U.S. views of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have been hardening for at least two decades, from George W. Bush characterizing China in the 2000 presidential campaign and the first months of his presidency as a “strategic competitor,” to the Obama administration’s pursuit of a “pivot” to the Asia–Pacific in response to China’s growing assertiveness, to the Trump administration describing China’s rise as signaling the “return of an era of great power competition.” Does this trend reflect changes in U.S. self-conception and national identity? Evolving assessments of threat in light of Chinese behavior and what these imply about the regime’s intentions? A reaction to shifts in the overall balance of power between the two countries, perhaps a reflection of a declining superpower facing a rising challenge, “tragically” destined to participate in a “contest for supremacy in Asia” that will ineluctably result in a “Thucydides trap” or war of hegemonic transition? Or is it instead an inevitable clash between a liberal, democratic, rule of law capitalist hegemon and a resilient authoritarian challenger that is a communist dictatorship increasingly reliant on aggressive nationalism since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and evolving rapidly towards national socialism or fascism? While each of these perspectives provides some purchase on the recent developments in U.S. – China relations as seen from Washington, this chapter focuses on the role of national identity, arguing that identity is by no means the sole or best explanation, but that it is an important factor that should not be overlooked or underestimated.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Rush Doshi
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: "Hindu nationalism risks pushing India into war with China,” blared the headline from China’s nationalist tabloid, Global Times. Meanwhile, in Washington, a wide-ranging network of analysts optimistic on U.S.-India ties similarly argue that India’s nationalist political forces will push the country further away from Beijing and likely closer to Washington. These are bold claims about the ways in which national identity will intersect with great power politics. But are they correct? That question is now more urgent than ever. The Bhartiya Janata Party’s (BJP) sweeping victory in the May 2019 elections shows that Hindu nationalism is the potent political force reshaping the country. But what role does China play in Hindu nationalist narratives, and how might those narratives affect China policy? This paper explores the various threads of Hindu nationalism and chronicles the relatively limited role that China plays within them. First, it explores the history of Hindu nationalism as a political force in India, demonstrating its tendency to view Islam – rather than the West or China – as the salient other. The key nationalist policy priorities for Hindu nationalists–including the introduction of a Uniform Civil Code that reduces sharia’s role in civil law, the repeal of Article 370 of India’s Constitution that protects Kashmir’s special status, and the construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya on the grounds of what was once a mosque – are all issues that implicate Hindu relations with Islam. Second, after making the argument that Hindu nationalism is primarily focused on Islam, the paper then turns to analyzing China’s role in nationalist ideology. It argues that China plays a relatively limited and often contradictory role in nationalist discourse despite the increasingly contentious Sino-Indian relationship. Hindu nationalists view China through a variety of lenses – sovereignty, trade, and values – each of which produces a different perspective and precludes a singular, unified Hindu nationalist view of China. And in some areas, Hindu nationalists even admire Chinese approaches.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Nationalism, Religion, Political Parties, Domestic Policy, Hinduism
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, India, Asia