News / Asia

    Japan-S. Korea Dispute Jeopardizes US Asia Plans

    South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, right, talks with police officer Yoon Jang-soo as Lee visits islands called Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan, August 10, 2012.South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, right, talks with police officer Yoon Jang-soo as Lee visits islands called Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan, August 10, 2012.
    x
    South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, right, talks with police officer Yoon Jang-soo as Lee visits islands called Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan, August 10, 2012.
    South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, right, talks with police officer Yoon Jang-soo as Lee visits islands called Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan, August 10, 2012.
    VOA News
    Analysts say a worsening territorial dispute between Japan and South Korea could jeopardize U.S. policy in the Asia-Pacific region.

    The dispute escalated last week, when South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visited a group of uninhabited islands claimed by both countries, prompting Japan to recall its ambassador. It was the first visit by a South Korean president to the islands, called Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan.

    Seoul and Tokyo have long had rocky relations, due in part to anti-Japanese sentiment left over from Japan's harsh colonial rule of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

    State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland on Monday encouraged South Korea and Japan to repair ties, but said Washington did not take sides in the dispute.

    David Fouse of the Hawaii-based Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies says a lack of cooperation between the two key U.S. allies puts at risk a key element of the Obama administration's pivot toward Asia.

    "[Washington is] looking for all of our partners and allies to do a little more in terms of maintaining the global commons [natural resources] and sea lanes of communication, [and] contributing more to the regional security framework," Fouse stated. "And if our two partners aren't able to cooperate, I think it undermines that goal."

    In June, South Korea postponed the signing of what would have been its first military accord with Japan since 1945. Security analyst Jonathan Blaxland of Australian National University says it was largely South Korean domestic opposition that led to the cancellation of the intelligence sharing agreement.

    But Blaxland says that while the most recent dispute is a serious issue, it is likely to soon pass. "What we're seeing is a potentially significant and useful political distraction for President Lee at the moment, given problems with his brother and other connections with corruption allegations. So beating the nationalist can is actually a pretty convenient thing to do at the moment," he said.

    He says the situation could also change following South Korean elections set for December in which President Lee is not eligible to run.

    But for now, the situation does not appear to be improving. Japanese media reports said Monday that Tokyo is considering suspending bilateral talks set for next month at a regional summit in Russia. Japan has also said it could take up the territorial dispute with the International Court of Justice.

    Fouse points out that the one party that could benefit from ongoing tension between Seoul and Tokyo is China, which would welcome the scuttling of any security cooperation between the two.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.