Japan and South Korea and the GSOMIA merry-go-round: Japan should focus on China and Russia

Japan and South Korea and the GSOMIA merry-go-round: Japan should focus on China and Russia

Sawako Utsumi and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Korean Peninsula is divided between North Korea and South Korea because both Korea’s don’t trust each other. Thus with South Korea repeatedly turning against Japan when relations between both Korea’s hit the rocks – or when petty nationalism is needed in Seoul to boost the respective leader – it is time for Japan to focus on China and the Russian Federation.

Once more South Korea is indicating that it may terminate GSOMIA (General Security of Military Information Agreement) with Japan. Hence, it is time for Japan to put GSOMIA to bed because South Korea can’t move on. Equally important, no sincerity is emanating from South Korea. Therefore, why should Japan concern itself with events on the Korean Peninsula from the viewpoint of Seoul?

The United States and unpredictability under Obama and Trump

America under the administrations of Barack Obama and Donald Trump are chaotic because of no set logic. Indeed, in the Middle East when major protests broke out in Egypt and Iran under Obama, the United States forsook Egypt and remained distant from events in Iran. Therefore, the legacy of Obama’s destabilization in Libya and Syria continues to haunt the international community – while both nations suffer horrendously.

The only continuity under Obama and Trump is unpredictability. Meanwhile, the only continuity in South Korea is anti-Japan nationalism and turning this on and off when it suits.

Of course, the United States will continue to be an essential ally for Japan for the foreseeable future. However, it is time for Japan to free itself from the South Korea web. Simultaneously, Japan must avoid the geopolitical entanglements of America and China by helping to reduce tensions.

China and the Russian Federation

Japan doesn’t need to involve itself in either the Korean Peninsula or the ongoing tit-for-tat between Beijing and Washington. Instead, Japan should focus on strengthening ties with China and the Russian Federation – while simultaneously boosting ties with democratic powers from Australia to India. Similarly, the bedrock alliance between Japan and the United States should be preserved based on mutual self-interests but not expansionist.

China and the Russian Federation – notably Moscow’s strong ties with China, India, the nations of Central Asia, Vietnam, and various powers in the Middle East can’t be ignored.  This equally applies to the energy dynamics of the Russian Federation and Central Asia.

Of course, relations with China are more delicate because both Beijing and Washington seek leverages throughout the Asia-Pacific. However, the economic and geopolitical angle for Japan toward China is extremely important. Therefore, a more nuanced approach is needed.

Even though territorial disputes exist between Japan and the Russian Federation, the dimension is extremely different. After all, the Russian Federation is focused on joint energy and economic developments with Japan in the region of dispute.

This is a far-cry from territorial spats between China and Japan – and Japan and South Korea. Therefore, with the Russian Federation advancing its military in the hypersonic area – and other developments related to cyber warfare – alongside its clout throughout a strategically important area for Japan – then Moscow and Tokyo should strengthen ties.

South Korea and GSOMIA

Last year the Modern Tokyo Times stated, “The recent love-in between South Korea and North Korea is likely to hit the rocks sooner or later, then this bodes well for Japan. After all, Japan can step back from being over-involved in any dispute between both Korea’s. Instead, let the political elites of Seoul and Pyongyang sort out their differences along with America.”

The article continued, “In truth, GSOMIA only came into existence in 2016. Hence, it is foolhardy to claim that it is of major significance. More important, South Korea will keep on utilizing history to bash Japan at any given time. Therefore, until South Korea becomes sincere towards Japan, it is better to focus on more serious issues related to China and the Russian Federation.”

Once more South Korea is warning that it may terminate GSMOIA. Thus Japan should focus on its geopolitical concerns related to America, China, the Russian Federation, and strengthening military ties with democratic nations throughout the Asia Pacific.

Thereby reducing geopolitical initiatives with South Korea because of the endless petty nationalist merry-go-round of political elites in Seoul.

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