Lingering antagonism between Japan and Korea are part of a host of reasons relations between the two key U.S. allies in Asia have yet to improve, according to a Tuesday panel at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.
“Washington can be a lot more imaginative in talking to both sides” and not falling back on the belief that “North Korea is the glue that holds us together,” Michael Auslin of the American Enterprise Institute said.
The stability and order that the United States brought to the region after World War II and the fostering of democracy in Japan and Korea “is at risk. [The three] must act together to take a leadership role in Asia.”
While agreeing on the larger issue of nuclear non-proliferation, the split between the two Asian countries over an agreement on UNESCO World Heritage Sites was only the latest manifestation of how they view 20th-century history and its impact on their relationship.
Before World War II, Japan dominated the peninsula. Antagonism between the two goes back centuries, the panelists agreed.
Auslin cited another, more significant example, to mutual security to define the divide: “At the last minute, a military information-sharing agreement was scuppered” was another example of the deep suspicion that remains between the two countries.