Japan-Korea Relations:The New Cold War in Asia?

Author
Ji-Young Lee, David C. Kang
Content Type
Journal Article
Journal
Comparative Connections
Volume
12
Issue Number
4
Publication Date
4th Quarter
Institution
Center for Strategic and International Studies
Abstract
The year ended with heightened tensions resulting from Pyongyang"s shelling of South Korea"s Yeonpyeong Island on Nov, 23 and the subsequent show of force by South Korea, the US, and Japan. Yet, despite dueling artillery barrages and the sinking of a warship, pledges of “enormous retaliation,” in-your-face joint military exercises and urgent calls for talks, the risk of all-out war on the Korean Peninsula is less than it has been at any time in the past four decades. North Korea didn"t blink because it had no intention of actually starting a major war. Rather than signifying a new round of escalating tension between North and South Korea, the events of the past year point to something else – a potential new cold war. The most notable response to the attack on Yeonpyeong was that a Seoul-Washington-Tokyo coalition came to the fore, standing united to condemn North Korea”s military provocations, while Beijing called for restraint and shrugged away calls to put pressure on North Korea. Within this loose but clear division, Japan-North Korea relations moved backward with Prime Minister Kan Naoto blaming the North for an “impermissible, atrocious act.” On the other hand, Japan-South Korea relations have grown closer through security cooperation in their reaction to North Korea. Tokyo"s new defense strategy places a great emphasis on defense cooperation and perhaps even a military alliance with South Korea and Australia in addition to the US to deal with China"s rising military power and the threat from Pyongyang.
Topic
Cold War
Political Geography
Japan, Washington, Asia, Tokyo, Korea