Premium Content


Biden hopes to tighten the South Korean-Japanese bond at Camp David

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

WASHINGTON/SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) – When Yoon Suk Yeol this week commemorated his country’s 1945 independence from Japan, the South Korean president didn’t dwell on the brutal 35-year occupation his people endured under their neighbour.
Instead, the 62-year-old leader, too young to remember the humiliations of Japanese rule, celebrated the country as a “partner” that now shares the same values and interests. Facing nuclear threats from North Korea – a constant worry for both Seoul and Tokyo – Yoon reserved his condemnation for “Communist aggression.”
The Biden administration believes a seismic but fragile realignment is underway in East Asia: a deeper relationship between two close US allies with a long history of mutual anger and distrust. The change would accelerate Washington’s effort to counter China’s influence in the region and help it defend Taiwan.
US President Joe Biden hopes to cement those ties with a summit at Camp David, the storied presidential retreat in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains, this Friday.
While the summit is unlikely to produce a formal security arrangement that commits the nations to each other’s defence, they will agree to a mutual understanding of regional responsibilities.
“I find the meeting at Camp David mind-blowing,” Dennis Wilder, a professor at Georgetown University who once managed the Japan and South Korea relationship under former President George W. Bush, wrote on the social media platform X. “We could barely get South Korean and Japanese leaders to meet with us in the same room.”
Behind the easing tensions, say diplomats from the three countries, is a shared concern about an increasingly aggressive China and an erratic North Korea.
But they credit, in particular, the initiative of Yoon and Kishida personally in seeking better ties.
Yoon’s push to break the stalemate has provided “important momentum” for greater cooperation, South Korean deputy national security advisor Kim Tae-hyo told reporters that the three leaders would spend the “longest time together ever” at Camp David.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *