The importance of the Japan-U.S.-South Korea partnership must be stressed.
President Joe Biden, who is currently on his first tour of Asia since his inauguration last January, held talks with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol in Seoul before meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida tomorrow. The change in direction for South Korea, from former President Moon Jae-in’s attempts at reconciliation with North Korea to the current conservative administration’s focus on national security, was a focal point of this meeting. Both leaders agreed to begin talks aimed at expanding joint military exercises, which were scaled back after talks with former President Donald Trump four years ago.
During a press conference after the meeting, Yoon stated, “There can be no compromises regarding national security,” while also stressing the necessity of America’s “nuclear umbrella” strategy for nuclear deterrence.
North Korea has repeatedly test-launched numerous types of missiles since the start of the year, including an ICBM during Biden’s tour of Asia. There are fears that North Korea has even entered its seventh round of nuclear testing. Efforts must be made so that these provocations don’t go unpunished.
Biden asserted at a later press conference that military and economic cooperation with Japan is vital, and expressed interest in meeting with Kishida about mending Japanese-South Korean relations, which are needed now more than ever to protect economic security under the shadow of the U.S.-China rivalry.
On this trip, Biden visited Seoul first before making his way to Japan — a message to Yoon, who was elected on an agenda that included strengthening alliances, that he expects an ever stronger South Korea to play a larger role. What makes South Korea so important, among other reasons, is its large production base of semiconductors, a valuable strategic resource, which is why Biden made a beeline to a Samsung factory, known for making world-class electronics. There, he advocated for a balanced supply chain between countries that share the same values.
The large fluctuations felt in the world order with the Russian invasion of Ukraine have had a great impact here in Asia as well. Preserving peace and stability in East Asia will take an unprecedented effort from Japan, the U.S. and South Korea. Our starting point must be to rebuild our partnership so that we can stay resilient in the face of North Korea.