South Korea elects a new leader: America hopes Yoon will be a stooge like Kishida 

South Korea elects a new leader: America hopes Yoon will be a stooge like Kishida 

Noriko Watanabe and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times 

The people of South Korea voted for a new leader from the conservative camp. Hence, the new leader in waiting, Yoon Suk-yeol, promises to be a hawk concerning the interests of South Korea and America. Therefore, while Japan is “a stooge of America” under Fumio Kishida – will Yoon follow the same path to such an extreme?

Prime Minister Kishida of Japan, with his frequent anti-Russian Federation rhetoric – followed by the usual anti-China approach concerning the affairs of China (Hong Kong, Taiwan, and human rights) – now faces a pro-American mirror with the election result in South Korea.

Yoon declared that his election win is a “victory of the great South Korean people.”

The BBC reports, “Mr. Yoon, a political novice, edged out a victory over the Democratic Party’s Lee Jae-myung based on promises to tackle class inequality.”

Reuters reports, “Conservative South Korean opposition candidate Yoon Suk-yeol rode to victory in a tight presidential election on a wave of discontent over economic policy, scandals and gender wars, reshaping the political future of Asia’s fourth-largest economy.”

In the realm of foreign policy, Yoon is pro-America – similar to the current leader of Japan. Hence, the strange nationalism of Japan and South Korea continues despite both nations having American bases throughout the country. Therefore, Yoon promises a conservative “reset” in aligning with America, unlike the incumbent leader Moon Jae-in who is more independent. 

Japan and South Korea have poor relations. In saying this, relations with China and the Russian Federation are also deteriorating concerning the two recent administrations in Japan (Yoshihide Suga and the current leader Kishida). Therefore, with relations between North Korea and Japan being negative, Japan is untrusted throughout the region – apart from relations with Taiwan (Japan’s favorable relations with Taiwan more relate to the anti-China angle and supporting America’s foreign policy)

It remains to be seen if Japan and South Korea can mend fences. After all, historical issues and any movement near small islets claimed by both Japan and South Korea set off angry words of nationalist rhetoric. Hence, unless Yoon turns his conservative pro-US stance solely against China and North Korea, his political base might become alarmed if he moves too close to Japan. 

Northeast Asia needs a reset – even if Yoon and Kishida can’t pull themselves away from Washington. Thus it is hoped Yoon doesn’t increase tensions with China by meddling over Taiwan, similar to Japan in recent years. Likewise, positive relations with the Russian Federation are in the interest of South Korea concerning events on the Korean Peninsula (North Korea). However, while it remains to be seen if he will take the nationalist and pro-America approach to China and the Russian Federation similar to Kishida, it seems unlikely that he will build bridges with North Korea unless Pyongyang alters course. 

Kishida is in anti-Russian Federation mode. Thus tensions with the Russian Federation will increase under his administration unless he makes a u-turn. This currently seems doubtful. Therefore, Kishida’s administration will make initial overtures toward Yoon. 

Kishida is unprincipled – after all, he recently contacted the leader of Indonesia – despite the extrajudicial killings of children in West Papua – about the deeds of the Russian Federation concerning Ukraine. Likewise, will Kishda cut ties with Saudi Arabia over the systematic bombing of Yemen year after year? No way! Instead, Kishida’s nationalism (traditional political families dominate the political system in Japan) is solely focused on the anti-China and anti-Russia angle that began after the Meiji Restoration (1868). However, unlike the leaders of old Japan, Kishida bows down to the strings of Washington (even Shinzo Abe refused to go along with America’s anti-Russian Federation angle)

UN News reports, “Between April and November 2021, we have received allegations indicating several instances of extrajudicial killings, including of young children, enforced disappearance, torture and inhuman treatment and the forced displacement of at least 5,000 indigenous Papuans by security forces.”

Modern Tokyo Times recently said, “If Japan was principled and put sanctions on America for dropping Agent Orange on Vietnam, supporting right-wing death squads via Operation Condor in South America, supporting the massacres of untold numbers in Indonesia (killing vast numbers of communists, ethnic cleansing in East Timor, and ethnic cleansing in West Papua), and the bombing of Iraq (false flag and weapons of mass destruction), Libya, and destabilizing many nations including Syria: then Japan would be deemed principled. However, the deaths of millions of people concerning the above conflicts on several continents by America barely raised an eyebrow in Japan.”

Turning back to Yoon. He might become a positive leader internally if he remains true to his words. He said, “Politics is about solving the pending issues of people’s lives and preparing for the future…Fairness and law are essential basic values in solving our pending issues and preparing for the future.”

Northeast Asia doesn’t need another nationalist nation that isn’t trusted regionally – similar to Japan (only Taiwan trusts). Thus, it is hoped that South Korea focuses on a more nuanced approach to China and the Russian Federation under Yoon. Likewise, South Korea shouldn’t involve itself in the Taiwan issue to any serious degree – let China and Taiwan solve the crisis. 

Relations with North Korea are always up in the air – the same applies to past leaders. Hence, Yoon will equally be challenged by opening channels with North Korea. However, in terms of increasing military hardware, the region of Northeast Asia is extremely potent. Therefore, regional bridges need building, unlike being destroyed by Kishida – so it is hoped that Yoon follows a more diplomatic approach to the regional dynamics of Northeast Asia. 

https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/03/1113062

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-60685141

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