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

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs