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Why a military clash between Japan and South Korea could lead to a crisis



The collision began on December 20 after a meeting between a Japanese plane that Tokyo was collecting intelligence data and a South Korean destroyer Seoul said he was on a humanitarian mission. Both sides disagree with what happened afterward – the Japanese said the South Koreans were targeting their planes with radar targeting radar, while the South Koreans say that the Japanese plane was flying dangerously low and that the radar "did not is designed to track Japanese aircraft. "

quickly escalated, bringing to the fore the historical controversies that have so far occurred in the back and, in turn, threatening the stability of the region.

"East Asian geopolitics is shaken and is upset now," said Van Jackson, a former US Department of Defense official specializing in the Asia-Pacific region. even if the apparent aim is to deprive Pyongyang of a nuclear weapon and the future of the United States in the region is now less secure than ever since the 1

970s.

regional stability. "

Marriage of convenience

South Korea and Japan are historic opponents locked in marriage in comfort, creating a complicated partnership. Their relationship is still very much colored by the legacy of the imperial occupation of Japan and the colonization of the Korean Peninsula in the first half of the 20th century.

This revived tension comes in a terrible time for the US – Trump's administration is currently preparing for its second North Korea summit, while moving towards a key deadline in trade talks with China.

Shortly after the initial incident, Japan and South Korea held working-level meetings to try to resolve the issue in closed doors.

It seems that he did not work – and neither party buys the explanation from the other.

Japan released a video of the incident from December 28th.

Japan has held three other flights over South Korean ships this month – one last week, one on Tuesday and another Wednesday. Seoul publicly condemned the latter as a "clearly provocative act" against a "partner country".

  The South Korean Ministry of Defense released this radar photo, which shows that a Japanese patrol plane is 7.5 kilometers from the South Korean naval destroyer Dae Joyeong.

But South Korea was a military dictatorship at that time, and many Koreans believe that the deal is unjust – and today still struggle against it.

The two countries are still in a heated debate about statues depicting "comfortable women" – Korean women forced to provide sexual services to Japanese soldiers – and recent South Korean Supreme Court judgments that allow citizens to sue Japanese corporations for reparations for forced labor.

Japan claims that both issues are covered by the treaty.

Far farther, they have been in heated dispute for more than 50 years from the ownership of a group of islands called Doko in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese.

Nevertheless, military relations between Japan and South Korea are often largely unaffected by the fits and flows of political disagreements, Miller, an analyst at the Japanese Institute for International Relations, said.

it was a type of quarantine or immune before, "he said. "It was not always perfect … but it was one that both agreed to the better for both."

The Alliance's support

The foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday to discuss the issue, but their meeting ended with statements that seem to resolve nothing.

Not with them in Davos was their common ally under the treaty, the United States, which would normally help mediate the dispute. President Donald Trump canceled his trip to Davos to deal with the US government's closure. Former Defense Minister James Matisse pointed this out as a key disagreement between him and the president in his resignation letter.

"Our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships," said Matisse.

"While the United States remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we can not defend our interests or serve this role effectively without sustaining strong alliances and showing respect for these allies."

Analysts like Jackson, Former Defender A department official, worried that the current split is a manifestation of the dwindling US leadership and will play in the hands of North Korea and China – two countries that historically strive to reduce US influence in the region,

"What we see lately is, in a sense, a return to history – the two countries have never fully resigned when they normalized their relations in 1965, and set up many conflicts of interest in d "If anything does not change, I expect some serious crisis to erupt at some point, unfortunately."


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