Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Russia-Japan relationship

Many changes in unexpected places are taking place while appearing not to.

From Oriental Review
Japan Seeks to Restore Its National Sovereignty. Japan-Russia Relations
While the new resident of the White House has been acquiring a taste for military adventures overseas, the prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, visited Moscow last Thursday for his 17th talk with Vladimir Putin. But of course their normal economic agenda, intended to hammer out the final details of some painful bilateral issues, was powerfully affected by events in North Korea. So what’s the real political equation in the Eurasian Far East these days?

The memorable dinner hosted by Pres. Trump for Chairman Xi and served up with the added flourish of a missile strike on a Syrian air base was hardly a diplomatic success for the new administration. The Chinese leader has apparently turned a deaf ear to the president’s demands to revalue the yuan and thus financially offset the enormous US trade deficit with its biggest economic partner. But one of the few advantages of having a businessman in the Oval Office is that he always has a non-business argument when trapped in any sort of business quagmire. Teasing a limitrophe that is loyal to your adversary is the first-choice option in such cases.

Nearly 63 years after the end of the Korean War, during which the United States Air Force dropped more conventional and napalm bombs onto North Korea than did all the Allies onto Germany during the WWII, Washington is still officially in a state of war with Pyongyang.  And it is precisely this powerful factor of ambiguity that drives the awkward nuclear ambitions of a small and stalemated nation. A safe and manageable bogey-state offers a convenient pretext for the US to stretch a vengeful hand toward the coastline of a key economic “partner” whenever the time is right – which is almost a dream come true for US strategists. So far, this most recent “North Korean escalation” has had a single tangible result – the US THAAD anti-missile systems that monitor eastbound Chinese rockets are being deployed in South Korea and will reportedly “be operational within days.”

The only problem is that this game is not being played in a geopolitical vacuum. A symptomatic WP commentator – periodically venting his spleen against the “hermit kingdom” of North Korea – lets slip one notable point:

    If the crisis deepens, the possibility arises of South Korea and, more importantly, Japan going nuclear themselves....

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