Saturday, May 18, 2024

Camp David summit between Japan and South Korea… Biden’s greatest achievement


Max Pat* So Me Terry*

It is difficult to overstate the importance of last Friday’s Camp David summit between US President Joe Biden, South Korean President Yun Chok-yul and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

A summit like this was unthinkable almost two years ago. Much of this summit must go to the courageous South Korean president and pragmatic Japanese prime minister for their ability to transcend their historical grievances, but the Biden administration also deserves great credit for helping to bring about this reconciliation.

Former German chancellor Otto von Bismarck said: “Politics is the art of the possible, the situation the art of the next.” That goes for foreign policy, and for Biden, who has decades of experience in both domestic and foreign policy. Compared to what former President Donald Trump did when he entered his first government office in 2016 when he was elected president, there is a sense of certainty about what can realistically be accomplished.

Trump achieved a major diplomatic achievement, the Abrahamic Accords, which led to the normalization of three Arab states with Israel, but his ability to dismantle international structures (withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement) far outweighed the possibility of creation. New contracts. His most daring diplomatic achievement was his participation in a summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that failed to achieve the unrealistic goal of denuclearizing North Korea.

Views of the Pacific Ocean

The summit with Yul and Kishida was another big achievement, given how difficult it has been in the past to get the two heads of state in the same room. It was the culmination of a process that began when Biden entered the White House and was led by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan and the National Security Council’s coordinator for Indo-Pacific relations. , Kurt Campbell.

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The turning point that made such a meeting possible came in March, when Juul — with the encouragement and support of the Biden administration — made a bold decision to offer reparations to those forced to work in the war with Japan, without contributions or apologies. From Japan. In Tokyo’s view, it undoes the damage caused by the 2018 Korean court ruling, even though the issue was settled decades ago. Japan’s response to this was anger, and it imposed restrictions on the export of advanced technologies to South Korea, and South Korea withdrew from the Joint Intelligence Agreement between the two sides, imposing restrictions on its exports to Japan and relations between the two countries. Parties are largely degenerate.

But relations began to improve following Yule’s decision to offer compensation to forced laborers, and he later traveled to Tokyo to meet Kishida in the first official visit between the two countries since 2011. among them.

Opinions on Foreign Policy

Now the Camp David meeting could take the new tripartite alliance “to a new level,” as the three leaders promised at the G-7 summit in Hiroshima last May. The informal atmosphere at the Camp David presidential retreat deepened ties between the three leaders.

Expanding the range of military exercises and sharing intelligence on North Korean missile launches are priorities for the three leaders, while making it clear that their countries’ common security is closely intertwined. The ultimate, long-term goal should be to link Japanese and South Korean missile systems directly rather than using the United States as an intermediary, and it is important that both countries expand cooperation on North Korea’s cyber threats.

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Boosting the economy and military security were on the agenda for the trilateral summit, and Japan and South Korea felt unfair as a result of provisions of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act that exempted electric cars made only in North America. The recovery of trade relations between Seoul and Tokyo, following the lifting of export restrictions, has paved the way for stronger cooperation between the three countries in the chip industry, making the three countries more resilient in the face of the industry’s challenges.

But major challenges remain as Yul and Kishida’s approval ratings in public opinion polls struggle and Yul faces opposition from the opposition Democratic Party to his efforts to improve relations with Japan. According to a Gallup poll conducted last March, 64% of South Koreans said their country should not rush into its reconciliation without a change in Japan’s stance, and 8% of South Koreans said the Japanese government regretted its colonial past. .

A top is not enough

This dynamic shows just how important the Camp David meeting is, as Liul and Kishida can bid for America’s support to move forward on the dangerous path of their friendship.

Of course, there are limits to what even the most accomplished female diplomat can achieve. South Korea does not want to lose its relationship with China, its largest trading partner, and the same applies to Japan and the United States.

Indeed, repairing damaged relations between South Korea and Japan will require more than one summit, no matter how successful. That is why it is very important for the three leaders to commit to regular meetings and to establish three hot lines between them. Despite the vicissitudes that characterize US-Japanese and South Korean politics, Biden believes that by institutionalizing the trilateral process, relations cannot be returned to their previous state.

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It’s an ambitious goal, and whether or not it can be achieved remains to be seen, but Biden deserves great credit for devoting precious diplomatic capital to taking the trilateral relationship to such an advanced stage.

• * Writer for the Washington Post

• * Former CIA analyst

Rolf Colon
Rolf Colon
"Creator. Award-winning problem solver. Music evangelist. Incurable introvert."

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