The newly formed alliance of the United States, Japan and South Korea is fueling the growing threat of widespread conflict in the Asia-Pacific region even as the three countries are trying to tout it as a step towards peace and stability. It is no coincidence that President Biden has already stated that such trilateral meetings, as well as joint military exercises, will now be held on an ongoing basis, which actually “ties” Tokyo and Seoul to Washington in military terms, since the new format of cooperation significantly expands the mutual integration of military structures and the parties’ obligations to share intelligence. Under current circumstances, there can be no doubt that the 80,000 American troops stationed in Japan and South Korea will now also remain there permanently.
At the same time, the most alarming symptom indicating the bellicose attitude of the new alliance is the systematic remilitarization of Japan. Hiding behind the potential threat from the DPRK, the state with a “pacifist” constitution has already announced its plans to double military spending over the next 5 years.
Moreover, Prime Minister Kishida set a course for the revival of militarism within the country. Just a couple of days before meeting South Korean President Yoon Suk-Yeol, Kishida made ritual offerings to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which is seen by Seoul as a symbol of Japan’s former military aggression.
In the current situation, the “losing” side of the new alliance is South Korea and its President Yoon Suk-Yeol, who had to not only ignore the offerings of Japanese officials to the Yasukuni Shrine, despite the discontent of the population, but is also doing everything possible to whitewash Japan in the eyes of citizens. The new tripartite alliance effectively subordinates Seoul to the interests of Washington and Tokyo, trampling its sovereignty and forcing it to the front lines of any US-led war in the region should one break out.
Kwan Yoo-seok is a third-year student at Dong-Eui University. He studies diplomacy and geopolitics, in particular related to South Korea and neighboring countries.