Tag Archives: taiwan

Spring Comes Late For Senkakus

13 Apr

Senkakus Three-4-AllCapricious spring it might be this year on the Korean peninsula, but for Japan and Taiwan, spring has burst forth in the form of an agreement over the Senkakus. J. Michael Cole and Michael Turton agree, that “…agreement could help Tokyo draw a wedge between Taipei and Beijing, which has long called on Taiwan to create a united front against Japan.” Heritage’s Dean Cheng sees this as a good thing.

According to news reports, the two sides agreed to compromise on fishing in an area that is claimed by both Japan and Taiwan. Taiwan agreed not to fish within the territorial waters of the islands (12 nautical miles, under international law), but could operate in the rich fishing grounds outside those waters. In addition, Taipei and Tokyo agreed to establish a joint control committee that would regulate the size of each side’s fishing fleet.

This agreement marks an important step toward reducing tensions between at least two of the players. It is also a politically astute move by both Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Taiwanese’s President Ma Ying-jeou.

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NK Bluster Distracts From China-Japan Rivalry

13 Apr

Yoshida Signs San Francisco Peace TreatyNorth Korea’s recent bluster bears out what I have thought for years, that North Korea exists as a reminder of unfinished diplomacy in East Asia. North Korea has now hamfistedly expressed publicly what was consensus – Japan is in Pyongyang’s sights too.

“North Korea warned Japan Friday that Tokyo would be the first target in the event of a war on the Korean Peninsula if it continues to maintain its hostile posture,” reports South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency this morning in America, by way of a report from the DPRK‘s state-run Korean Central News Agency. “Japan always remains a target of the DPRK’s revolutionary armed forces. Once Japan makes even a slight provocation against the DPRK, the former will be hard hit before any others,” the report adds.

That’s pretty scary, especially since things had been calming down for a few days there — and especially considering the Pentagon can’t even make up its mind about what, exactly, Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities look like right now. And there are red-tipped missiles at flower shows in Pyongyang. But there’s sort of a loophole in today’s news. Notice how the warning reads: “if it” — as in Japan — “continues to maintain its hostile posture.” What the North Korean propaganda machine appears to be referring to is Tuesday’s action out of Japan, when it set up a slew of interceptor missiles in Tokyo as a precaution against North Korea’s declarations of war. And there have been plenty of precautionary measures from around the globe of late after what Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday called “unacceptable” rhetoric from the all too excitable Kim dynasty.

Rod Wye, a 37 year veteran of government service and former head of the Asia Research Group in Britain’s Foreign Office, puts the current impasse between the United States, North Korea, and South Korea into context as a “distraction” (~21 min.) to broader, unsettled issues in the post-WW2 settlement in East Asia.

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Cowen On Defending South Korea

7 Apr

Put A Cork In ItWhy does the United States get involved on the Korean peninsula?

It is not because we need to subsidize their defense per se, to cite one argument which some non-interventionist critics have attacked.  It is so, when North Korea behaves in a ridiculous manner, the South can respond (not respond) with great restraint.  What we are subsidizing is a) a feeling of security, and b) not building nuclear weapons in response.  We do something broadly similar for Japan.

The potential problem is when the same U.S. acts which produce a feeling of security in South Koreans produce a feeling of insecurity in North Korean leaders.  And the broader game we are playing, with numerous allies, means we might end up pushing some individual confrontations  beyond an optimal point (e.g., how would Israel respond with Iran if we wavered on South Korea?)  Might we have to overinvest in the South Korean feeling of security — from a strictly Korean peninsula point of view — to keep Japan, Israel, Taiwan, the Saudis, and others “in line”?

I’m still skeptical.


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