Quincy Brief

The U.S.–Japan–South Korea Trilateral Partnership: Pursuing Regional Stability and Avoiding Military Escalation

Executive Summary

A trilateral partnership is emerging in northeast Asia. Building off last August’s Camp David summit between the countries’ leaders, the United States, Japan, and South Korea are now engaging militarily in an unprecedented fashion, shaping an alignment aimed to counter North Korea and China. 

Efforts to discourage North Korean and Chinese aggression are necessary, particularly considering Japan and South Korea’s physical proximity to the two countries. But the emerging trilateral arrangement between the United States, Japan, and South Korea could backfire and increase the risk of conflict if it focuses exclusively on military deterrence. The United States, Japan, and South Korea should instead pursue a more balanced arrangement — one that promotes stability on the Korean peninsula, credibly reaffirms long standing policy over the Taiwan issue, and disincentivizes China from pursuing its own trilateral military partnership with North Korea and Russia.

To deter North Korea, the United States, South Korea, and Japan are relying on strike capabilities and military coordination to retaliate against North Korean aggression. This approach, however, will likely induce North Korea to increase its nuclear weapons and upgrade its missile capabilities. With this in mind, the three countries should roll back policy rhetoric and joint military exercises that might further provoke rather than deter North Korea, especially anything geared towards regime destruction.

At the same time, the United States, Japan, and South Korea have in recent years become more reluctant to endorse the original understandings they each reached with China about Taiwan. For the sake of reassurance, the three countries together should clearly confirm in official statements their One China policies and declare that they oppose unilateral changes to the status quo by any side, do not support Taiwan independence, and will accept any resolution of the Taiwan issue (including unification) achieved by peaceful and non–coercive means. Each country’s respective relationship with Taiwan should also remain strictly unofficial.

Another concerning aspect associated with this trilateral is the possibility of a corresponding alliance formation of Russia, China, and North Korea. To disincentivize this development, the United States, Japan, and South Korea should leverage their blossoming relationship to assuage Chinese fears of strategic containment, particularly through economic and diplomatic engagement that rejects the creation of a broadly exclusionary bloc in the region.



Alarmed by the growing security challenges posed by North Korea and China, the United States, Japan, and South Korea have taken unprecedented steps over the past year to expand their trilateral cooperation.

At the Camp David summit in August 2023 with U.S. President Joe Biden, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol, the three leaders agreed on a range of collective initiatives to boost their military coordination and combat readiness in regional contingencies.1They issued a joint statement from Camp David expressing criticism of North Korean and Chinese aggression, indicating that confronting threats posed by North Korea and China would be a major — if not the main — strategic objective of the trilateral partnership. Some observers assessed the summit as laying the groundwork for a future trilateral military alliance against North Korea and China.2

The tightened Japan–U.S.–South Korea trilateral military alignment has accompanied assertive bilateral and individual security policies and postures to counter North Korean and Chinese threats. In implementing its “Pacific Deterrence Initiative” to counter China, Washington has sought to upgrade U.S. forward military presence and operational control in the Asia–Pacific through its regional alliance structure.3 Under the Yoon administration, Seoul has adopted an explicit preemptive strike posture against North Korea. Tokyo has revised its national security strategy to acquire offensive capabilities, increase its defense expenditures, and promote a more combat–ready defense posture in cooperation with the United States.4

A one–sided emphasis on military deterrence can be counterproductive by causing greater North Korean and Chinese military assertiveness. 

Trilateral security cooperation can certainly contribute to deterring North Korea’s aggression and counterbalancing China’s regional military presence. However, a one–sided emphasis on military deterrence can be counterproductive by causing greater North Korean and Chinese military assertiveness. 

Conflict deterrence is essentially about shaping a potential aggressor’s cost–benefit calculus.5 Deterrence thus requires not only emphasizing the costs of aggression through sufficient military threats but also credibly reassuring the potential aggressor that the purpose of deterrence is not to undermine its vital interests. A holistic view of deterrence will create opportunities for mutual restraint and stabilization of confrontational dynamics. An effective strategy to deter North Korea or China would thus need to reduce rather than exacerbate their insecurities.

The dilemma Washington, Tokyo, and Seoul face is that specific policies or postures they have pursued or plan to pursue to improve security can trigger some of the deepest North Korean and Chinese insecurities — that is, the North Korean fear of regime change and the Chinese fear of losing Taiwan forever. A Japan–U.S.–South Korea trilateral security partnership that reinforces these North Korean and Chinese fears will feed into Pyongyang’s belief that there is no better alternative than continually expanding its nuclear arsenal and Beijing’s belief that U.S. efforts to bolster regional military alliances are driven by an ulterior motive to keep Taiwan permanently separated from China. As a result, North Korea and China could be compelled to opt for more confrontational policies instead of restraining their behavior.   

This policy brief examines how the Japan–U.S.–South Korea trilateral partnership could worsen the existing security dilemmas with North Korea and China and offers a roadmap for trilateral cooperation to mitigate these security dilemmas and stabilize the region.

Worsening regional security dilemmas

Risk of reinforcing North Korean fears of regime change

The deep–rooted North Korean fear of U.S.–instigated regime collapse, no matter how overblown it may be, has long contributed to Pyongyang’s belief that only nuclear weapons can guarantee its survival. Indeed, at least since the early 2000s, consecutive U.S. administrations have talked of regime change in North Korea as a desirable outcome.6Having witnessed repeated U.S. attempts to change regimes or assassinate leaders in perceived rogue states such as Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria over the years, it would be unsurprising if Pyongyang were convinced of a U.S. motive to remove the North Korean regime. Indeed, Pyongyang once warned the United States,“This land is neither the Balkans nor Iraq and Libya.”7

North Korea’s military policies over the years make more sense when taking its fears of U.S–mobilized regime collapse into account. North Korea’s obsession with developing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) capable of targeting American territory can be understood as a pursuit of deterrence rather than a preparation for a suicidal attack on the United States. North Korea’s nuclear law revisions in 2022 — shifting from a no–first–use stance to “automatic and immediate” nuclear retaliation against any attempted attacks on the North Korean leadership — can also be understood along the same lines.8

Promoting regime change is not a formal policy of the United States, South Korea, or Japan. But whether North Korea believes this is a different matter. Since the theory that strident sanctions can elicit North Korea’s regime collapse was once widely endorsed by American, Japanese, and South Korean leaders, Pyongyang probably believes this is still the case.9

If enduring threat perceptions about regime survival play a decisive role in the North Korean cost–benefit calculus of pursuing nuclear weapons, deterring such outcomes depends in no small part on reducing North Korean anxiety about regime change.10However, by relying on offensive military strategies and doctrines to deter North Korea, which will further overshadow the defensive intentions of deterrence, the Japan–U.S.–South Korea trilateral partnership risks stiffening the North Korean resolve to keep building nuclear weapons.  

Under the Yoon administration, Seoul has adopted a crystal–clear preemptive strike posture, placing concepts of preemption and automatic retaliation at the forefront of its defense strategy.11Seoul has focused much on enhancing capabilities to preempt North Korean missile launches and developing operational strategies to remove North Korea’s nuclear control command, namely the leader Kim Jong Un, in the event of war with precision missiles or special decapitation operation forces.12

While the Biden administration has avoided a preemptive posture toward North Korea, it has made a clear commitment to automatic regime–ending retaliation against North Korea if it used nuclear weapons.13 Washington has also reportedly resumed special operation drills with Seoul to simulate North Korean leadership decapitation that had been suspended for years.14

Japan revised its national security strategy in 2022, which mandates the acquisition of “counter–strike” missile capabilities and marks a departure from its traditional strictly defensive defense posture.15 As a result, Japan is purchasing U.S. precision–strike Tomahawk cruise missiles capable of targeting North Korean and Chinese territory and plans to develop its own long–range missiles. Although the Japanese rationale for these missiles is to deter attacks by having a retaliatory capability, these systems could allow Japan to move towards a preemptive posture in the future.16

Various initiatives launched at the Camp David summit serve to enhance trilateral capabilities and coordination to strike North Korea. For example, the trilateral real–time intelligence sharing system on North Korean missile activities has enabled more accurate tracking of the origins of North Korean missile launches, hence the possible targets of preemption and counterstrike. 

Based on indications so far, there appears to be potential for Washington, Tokyo, and Seoul to pursue an assertive trilateral posture against North Korea as they coordinate on strengthening deterrence, possibly even a preemptive posture.17 Such appeals will exist in light of Pyongyang’s continued progress in acquiring various types of tactical nuclear capabilities, which could substantially lower the North Korean threshold to use nuclear weapons.18

However, emphasizing preemption and counterstrike may prove counterproductive to deterrence. This policy might restrain Pyongyang’s coercive behavior to some degree and deter conflict in the short run, but it will also reinforce Pyongyang’s fatalism — i.e., that only by developing more powerful nuclear weapons and effective delivery systems, and showing ever–stronger resolve to use them, can they guarantee the regime’s protection and survival. In short, future military escalation and conflict will become more dangerous and destructive. The current Japan–U.S.–South Korea trilateral approach to North Korea neglects the importance of security assurances for effective deterrence. By failing to provide adequate assurances that would alleviate Pyongyang’s resolve to keep building nuclear weapons or employ nuclear weapons in a crisis, the current trilateral trajectory risks exacerbating the existing confrontation. 

The current Japan–U.S.–South Korea trilateral approach to North Korea neglects the importance of security assurances for effective deterrence.

Risk of reinforcing Chinese fears of Taiwan’s permanent separation

The Japan–U.S.–South Korea trilateral partnership also risks provoking greater Chinese military coercion by overlooking the importance of reassurance for deterrence on the Taiwan issue. 

Numerous studies of a hypothetical U.S.–China war over Taiwan has revealed that the cost for China of invading Taiwan is enormous, with a considerable risk of failure.19 At a minimum, such a war would wreck the Chinese economy and significantly damage China’s military capacity.20 Despite the high cost of war, Beijing has a strong incentive to engage in severe confrontation and even use military force to prevent Taiwan’s independence (or permanent separation).21 Chinese leaders have long regarded unification with Taiwan as a vital interest linked to the Chinese Communist Party’s legitimacy and have expressed their resolve to use force if that vital interest were threatened — for example, by what it perceived as U.S. and/or Taiwanese attempts to permanently separate the island from mainland China.22

For Beijing, the possibility of losing a war with Taiwan might be a less decisive factor when weighing the use of force, because backing down would be perceived as more costly. Even when China was substantially weaker than it is now and had no chance of winning a conflict against the United States, it did not hesitate to demonstrate its strong commitment to preventing Taiwan from moving toward independence, as in the 1995–96 Taiwan Strait Crisis.23 Dissuading Beijing from using force against Taiwan requires not only military deterrence but also credible reassurance that the purpose of deterrence is not to promote Taiwan’s permanent separation. Failing to do the latter would increase the likelihood of China choosing to use force.

Because Washington, Tokyo, and Seoul have yet to develop a concrete trilateral approach to the Taiwan issue that combines deterrence with credible reassurance, Beijing might interpret their current security initiatives as part of a coordinated effort to keep Taiwan permanently separated from China.

For example, in recent years, there appears to have been backtracking from previous U.S., Japanese, and South Korean commitments to their respective One China policies. 

With the United States now focused on strategic competition with China, some in Washington view the Taiwan issue as a geostrategic problem and believe that keeping Taiwan separated from China at any cost is now essential for regional stability and the overall U.S. defense posture. This notion appears to have influenced the U.S. government, with a senior Biden administration defense official describing Taiwan as a vital strategic node in Asia — thus implying that it must be kept separate from China.24

The apparent U.S. rhetorical emphasis on the geostrategic value of Taiwan, combined with President Biden’s repeated statements that U.S. forces would defend Taiwan if China were to attack Taiwan, have put into question the longstanding U.S. commitment to refrain from a military commitment to permanent Taiwan independence.25While U.S. officials have continued to espouse fealty to the One China policy, such reassurances now ring hollow to Beijing in light of repeated rhetorical backtracking, U.S.–Taiwan political engagements that appear increasingly official, and ever–growing U.S. military support for Taiwan.26

Japan’s statements on the Taiwan issue have also backtracked over the years. After Sino–Japanese normalization in 1972, Japan regularly reaffirmed the mutual understanding with China that constitutes its version of the One China policy — there is only one China27; Japan respects the Chinese position that Taiwan is a part of China28; Japan does not support Taiwan independence29; and Japan will continue to maintain only unofficial exchanges with Taiwan.30The Kishida government, however, is now reluctant to mention the notion of “One China” and  explicitly state non–support for Taiwan independence even though the Biden administration has routinely reaffirmed U.S. non–support for Taiwan’s independence.31 

Meanwhile, Japan has expanded its political and military engagement with Taiwan. Japanese leaders are frequently visiting Taiwan and making forward–leaning statements about defending Taiwan. For example, in August 2023, during his visit to Taiwan, former Prime Minister Tarō Aso, who currently is the vice president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, stated that Japan must show its “determination to fight” to deter China from attacking Taiwan.32 Previously, a retired Japan Self–Defense Force officer has served as the de facto Japanese defense attaché in Taiwan. But now, a current Ministry of Defense official will reportedly serve in this role to interact with Taiwan’s military.33

Likewise, South Korea has become more reluctant to reaffirm its bilateral understandings with China reached at the 1992 China-South Korea normalization, which constitutes its version of the One China policy.34South Korea used to confirm its One China policy in authoritative documents and statements at the presidential level.35But in recent years, starting with the previous Moon administration and continuing under the current Yoon administration, South Korea has tended to endorse its One China policy only at the ministerial level and in an increasingly less formal and less public manner.36 For example, South Korean officials have espoused their fealty to the One China policy in bilateral exchanges with Chinese counterparts, but such reaffirmation has tended to be excluded from official readouts.37 

While South Korea has refrained from political and security engagement with Taiwan over the years, this norm may be shifting under the Yoon administration. The Yoon administration’s recent invitation of a Taiwanese official to deliver a video speech at the U.S.–led Summit for Democracy held in Seoul, where the official asserted Taiwan is not a mere democratic island, may have been a harbinger of more official–looking South Korea–Taiwan exchanges to come.38

Washington, Tokyo, and Seoul’s rhetorical backtracking and de–emphasis on their One China policies could undermine deterrence.

Washington, Tokyo, and Seoul’s rhetorical backtracking and de–emphasis on their One China policies could undermine deterrence. The three governments have now adopted a firm trilateral stance against Chinese attempts to achieve unification by force by stating their opposition to unilateral attempts to change the status quo.39There is nothing inherently wrong with this clear trilateral opposition to unification by force. This message, however, when accompanied by a weakening of previous “One China” understandings, can signal to Beijing that such trilateral affirmations reflect part of a larger strategy intended to ensure Taiwan’s permanent separation from China. Convincing Beijing that this is not the case will not be easy, but it is necessary to preserve holistic deterrence through credible reassurance and motivate Chinese restraint with respect to Taiwan. 

Risk of precipitating a Russia–North Korea–China trilateral

As North Korea and China view the tightening Japan–U.S.–South Korea military partnership as posing greater challenges to their core interests (regime security and unification with Taiwan, respectively), North Korea and China could enhance their security ties and even pursue a trilateral strategic partnership with Russia. 

There is a historical precedent for the three countries working together: in the first decade of the Cold War, China, North Korea, and Russia were committed to cooperating against the West in the name of anti-–imperialism and collaborated in the Korean War. In recent years, the China–Russia and North Korea–Russia bilateral relationships have deepened as the U.S.–China rivalry and the Ukraine War increased their need for cooperation. 

A shared antagonism against the United States has driven China and Russia to bolster military cooperation such as intelligence sharing, joint weapons development, and more frequent and expansive joint military exercises in regional maritime and air spaces.40Russia’s isolation from the West following its full–scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 provided an opportunity for North Korea to elevate cooperation with Russia. Leveraging Russian needs for munitions and political support for its war at the United Nations, Pyongyang has obtained greater Russian military technological assistance and economic support for circumventing sanctions.41

China has so far maintained a distance from the emerging North Korea–Russia partnership for a couple of possible reasons. First, the deep historical mistrust between Chinese and North Korean leaders has kept their relationship fragile.42Another factor might be Beijing’s cost–benefit calculation that drawing closer to North Korea and Russia could severely damage its global reputation and provoke a deeper anti–China coalition among the United States, Japan, South Korea, and other regional actors.43

Nonetheless, China’s stance on North Korea has become more tolerant in recent years. In the past, China had endorsed extensive U.N. sanctions against major North Korean provocations, such as intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests, most recently in 2017. But China has since become far less willing to support punitive measures against North Korea and reluctant to condemn North Korean provocations.44

Beijing’s increased reluctance to pressure North Korea may go beyond the longstanding Chinese fear of a regime crisis in Pyongyang caused by external pressure. Increasingly alarmed about U.S. regional containment, Beijing may now be more willing to tolerate Pyongyang’s nuclear ambition and might even eventually partner with a nuclear North Korea in a confrontation against the United States and its regional allies.45Such a major shift in China’s value perception of North Korea might become more likely in the context of growing Chinese suspicions that the emerging Japan–U.S.–South Korea trilateral military partnership is supporting a U.S. containment strategy to keep Taiwan permanently separated from China. 

The emergence of a Russia–North Korea–China trilateral alignment will no doubt further destabilize northeast Asia’s security environment and intensify regional tensions. For example, Russia, North Korea, and China may begin trilateral joint military training and exercises in order to counter Japan–U.S.–South Korea joint drills.46Specifically, Beijing could become more inclined to undertake such actions if Japan–U.S.–South Korea naval and aerial drills — so far mostly taking place near South Korean territory — start appearing more directed at China by moving closer to the Taiwan Strait or other disputed maritime locations.47 

The emergence of a Russia–North Korea–China trilateral alignment will no doubt further destabilize northeast Asia’s security environment and intensify regional tensions. 

Additionally, North Korea might become more emboldened to engage in provocative nuclear weapons tests. Previously, China’s opposition to (and willingness to punish) North Korean nuclear tests had raised the cost of nuclear tests high enough to at least restrain Pyongyang from testing nuclear weapons more frequently.48Without such pressure from China, Washington, Tokyo, and Seoul would face Pyongyang with a completely free hand to test new tactical nuclear weapons it develops.  

As depicted above, the likelihood of deeper regional friction and confrontation calls into question the wisdom of framing the regional order in Asia as a contest between democracy and autocracy or making “values–based diplomacy” the guiding principle of cooperation.49This ideology–oriented framework will undercut Chinese incentives to pressure North Korea and provide a rationale for trilateral military cooperation between China, North Korea, and Russia.

The Japan–U.S.–South Korea trilateral’s transition into an overtly anti–authoritarian, anti–North Korea, and anti–China coalition could also backfire by creating echoes of the imperialist past, which could incite nationalist passions in both China and North Korea and exacerbate geopolitical polarization. Japan’s seizure of Taiwan after the first Sino–Japanese War of 1894–95 is indelibly etched in China’s collective memory. Therefore, the Chinese will be defiant against Japanese cooperation with the United States and South Korea to impede Taiwan’s eventual unification with China.50North Korea could see the U.S.–Japan security partnership with South Korea as echoing the history of outside imperialists enlisting Korean collaborators, as in Japanese colonialism in the first half of the 20th century or the Cold War alliance between the United States and South Korean dictators.

Reorienting the trilateral to stabilize northeast Asia

Promote stability as the guiding principle in deterring North Korea

Having developed tactical nuclear weapons, which allow limited, low–yield nuclear strikes, Pyongyang may no longer regard using nuclear weapons solely as the last resort to deter war or counter an offensive regime change attempt but also as a means of strategic deterrent and “escalation control” in crises.51Such misguided North Korean confidence in controlling escalation raises the possibility of using nuclear weapons in a crisis.52Because of North Korea’s increasing strategic flexibility in employing nuclear weapons, the so–called deterrence by punishment to compel North Korea by threatening preemption or automatic regime–ending retaliation bears an increasing risk of nuclear escalation and conflict.  

To underline a stronger resolve to counter North Korean attacks, some experts have raised the need for a U.S. declaration to preempt North Korean missile launches.53Despite reflecting an understandable concern, the policy of preemption carries a significant risk and should not be considered. It can backfire by triggering Pyongyang to take a more aggressive first–use posture, pursue dangerous operational plans to employ nuclear weapons early in a crisis, and most obviously, keep expanding and diversifying its nuclear arsenal.54And as North Korea becomes more belligerent, it can tempt Japan to move closer to a preemptive posture. Such a trend toward a Japan–U.S.–South Korea trilateral preemptive posture may prove to effectively threaten North Korea but only to stimulate its nuclear ambition.  

In deterring North Korea, Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo should remember that the key goal is defusing — not fueling — Pyongyang’s resolve to expand its missile capabilities, build more nuclear weapons, and use them. Therefore, the three countries should avoid moving toward a trilateral preemptive posture and roll back their respective offensive rhetoric and policy that might further provoke rather than deter North Korea. Seoul’s recent emphasis on preemption and counterstrike and Washington’s routine threats of regime-ending retaliation are examples of such counterproductive provocation.55

In particular, Washington and Tokyo should encourage the Yoon administration to take a more restrained posture toward North Korea. In the event of a North Korean gray-zone provocation, South Korea’s prudent restraint will be necessary to prevent an inadvertent escalation with North Korea into an unwanted larger conflict that the United States and Japan could be dragged into.56

Furthermore, Washington, Tokyo, and Seoul should moderate the scale and tempo of joint exercises. In policy debates on the implications of joint exercises for the deterrence of North Korea, the conventional wisdom has been that more frequent and larger exercises are better for deterrence.57Many experts have thus tended to oppose reducing or postponing joint drills for the sake of accommodating North Korea, believing that it will weaken deterrence and invite aggression or decrease South Korean and Japanese confidence in the U.S. alliance commitment. 

However, research has found that a restrained approach to joint military exercises can benefit deterrence by stabilizing crisis dynamics on the Korean peninsula.58Another recent study has shown that South Korea’s sense of confidence in the U.S. extended deterrence has not gone up over the past two years despite the augmented U.S. rhetorical commitment to automatic retaliation against North Korea and the increase in joint exercises.59This raises doubts about the benefits of employing regime-threatening rhetoric or joint exercises as a means of ally reassurance at the cost of provoking North Korea and escalating tensions. 

These findings leave room for continued regular joint exercises but suggest that they should be moderated and designed not to undermine stability. The trilateral and bilateral military displays currently taking place on a regular basis involving U.S. nuclear assets, such as B–52 bomber overflights, could be downscaled since they can provoke North Korea without necessarily achieving either goal of signaling credible deterrent threats or reassuring allies.60

Dealing with North Korea becomes easier when its behavior is more predictable, and this partly depends on the North Korean leadership’s sense of predictability about its security. If certain joint exercises hold the potential to augment Pyongyang’s irrational decision–making that can lead to dangerous miscalculations and overreactions, those may not be worth practicing at all.61

Credibly reassure China on the Taiwan issue

In order to promote stability in the Taiwan Strait, the United States, Japan, and South Korea should cooperate to credibly reassure China on the Taiwan issue. While the role of the United States as a primary actor in the problem will be particularly critical, Japan and South Korea’s role will also be important, given their increasing relevance to the strategic context of the U.S.–China rivalry as two key American military allies in northeast Asia. 

The United States, Japan, and South Korea should cooperate to credibly reassure China on the Taiwan issue.

To this end, the three countries together should clearly and explicitly confirm in official statements their One China policies and declare that they oppose unilateral changes to the status quo by any side, do not support Taiwan independence, and will accept any resolution of the Taiwan issue (including unification) achieved by peaceful and non–coercive means.62

Additionally, Washington, Tokyo, and Seoul should pursue cooperation and engagement with Taiwan on a strictly unofficial basis. Once Taiwan’s new president–elect, Lai Ching-te, a long-time ardent pro–independence advocate, enters office in May, he may very well be poised to elevate ties with the United States, Japan, and South Korea in a more official–looking manner and build overall greater regional support for Taiwan.63 The danger here is that staunch trilateral support for Taiwan and antagonism toward China can feed Lai’s pro–independence instincts and drive a misjudgment that he is gaining unprecedented regional support to move toward independence. The possibility of such a scenario should give Washington, Tokyo, and Seoul incentive to keep their relationships with Taiwan strictly unofficial and be selective about the nature of cooperation with Taiwan.  

Adopt a defensive-denial approach to Taiwan contingency planning

A growing number of U.S. experts and strategists have argued that as the status quo in the Taiwan Strait becomes more strained, Taiwan contingency planning will be inevitable for Japan and South Korea, given their geographical locations, the large U.S. military presence on their territories, and the hefty cost a Taiwan conflict will impose on their security.64Indeed, frank bilateral and trilateral discussions on a Taiwan contingency can help clarify each other’s positions and adjust expectations. Due to various factors, including the fear of entrapment and domestic resistance, Japan and South Korea face limitations in terms of how far they can be involved in a Taiwan contingency. 

Polls have suggested that the majority of Japanese and South Korean citizens believe their militaries should only provide rearguard support to the U.S. military in a Taiwan contingency.65Overall, the Japanese and South Korean public does not support the direct involvement of their countries’ military in the defense of Taiwan.  

Moreover, greater Japanese and South Korean involvement in Taiwan contingency planning with the United States could signal to Beijing that Washington is abandoning its longstanding policy of strategic ambiguity and adopting a policy of strategic clarity regarding whether and how to respond to a Taiwan conflict. China might see such developments as major provocations and take a more offensive military posture against Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea, further ramping up its military muscle-flexing against Taiwan and gray-zone activities in Japanese and South Korean maritime and air spaces.66

In sum, overt American efforts to involve Japan and South Korea in joint military planning and operations to directly defend Taiwan not only exceed the public consensus in Japan and South Korea but can also fuel antagonism between China and Taiwan, between China and Japan, and between China and South Korea. 

The more militarily and politically feasible approach to preparing for a Taiwan contingency may be a “defensive-denial” posture in which Japan and South Korea primarily focus on defending their territories and providing rearguard support to the United States.67

To deter a Taiwan conflict, Japan should adhere to its strictly defensive doctrine and strengthen its defense capabilities and preparation so that its Self-Defense Forces, as well as U.S. military deployments in Japan, are more survivable, resilient, and mobile in the context of Chinese offensive military operations against Japan and Taiwan. Given the geographic proximity of Japan’s southwest island chain to Taiwan, a Japanese “defensive-denial” strategy would also complicate Chinese military plans to unify Taiwan with the mainland with force, thereby enhancing deterrence.68Such a strategy to defend Japanese territory and only play a rearguard support role would be less provocative to China than direct and frontline Japanese involvement in Taiwan’s defense.

Because South Korea faces the risk of North Korea’s opportunistic aggression in the event of China’s invasion of Taiwan, it makes sense for South Korea to keep its defense posture and deterrence capabilities oriented around the Korean peninsula contingency.69And given South Korea’s military concentration on land forces, its ability to partake in direct combat operations, which would necessitate sufficient naval and air capabilities, may be limited. These structural limits suggest that a “defensive–denial” strategy to focus on territorial defense and limited rear–area support for the United States may also be the most suitable role for Seoul in a Taiwan contingency. 

Seek inclusive economic and diplomatic engagement with China.

In the name of “de–risking,” the United States has made restricting the influx of advanced technological materials and investments into China a strategic priority, with a stated goal of limiting Chinese access to a selective number of advanced technologies with military implications that have “straightforward national security concerns”—described as “small yard, high fence” restrictions by the U.S. government.70

To enhance the strategy’s impact, Washington has sought to make sure other countries join the effort. Japan and South Korea — U.S. allies and top players in the global semiconductor and advanced technological value chain — are no exceptions. Japan is already involved in the effort, and while South Korea has yet to join, the Camp David trilateral commitment to cooperating on advanced technology supply chain resilience hinted at the possibility of future trilateral cooperation in choking off Chinese access to advanced technology.71However, going in this direction of “trilateral de–risking” could substantially heighten tensions with China. 

The problem with the U.S. “de–risking” policy is that the existing scope of restrictions on China exceeds the claimed “small yard, high fence” policy.72Particularly because the restrictions cover general technologies, not just ones that have clear military implications, Beijing suspects the U.S. policy is driven by hostile motives to cripple China’s economic growth.73Chinese leaders clearly view the ongoing expanding technological restrictions as a direct threat to vital interests; indeed, this issue appears second only to Taiwan as an area of concern for China.74

Therefore, while pursuing “de–risking” in the sense of diversifying trade partnerships and working to reduce Chinese access to selective technologies directly related to advanced military use, the three countries should seek to reassure China about the limited purpose of their trilateral technological supply chain cooperation. While Washington can downscale its restrictions on China to more appropriately meet “small yard, high fence” terms, Tokyo and Seoul can make several credible gestures to signal to Beijing that any cooperation with U.S. technology limitations is intended to support legitimate U.S. national security concerns and not create a broadly exclusionary anti–China economic or technological bloc in the region. 

Insofar as South Korea and Taiwan have applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans–Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Japan should also welcome China’s application and encourage it to undertake the ambitious reforms necessary to achieve the high standards to qualify for membership. This expansion of the CPTPP, including the joint accession of China and Taiwan, could contribute to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.75

Japan and South Korea can also work together to regularize the annual Northeast Asian trilateral leadership summit process with China, which has remained on hiatus since 2019 and is reportedly set to resume in the near future.76These summits are meaningful in terms of maintaining communications but should also serve as an opportunity to coordinate policies toward North Korea, promote regional economic cooperation including negotiating a trilateral free–trade agreement, and address critical transnational challenges like climate change.77

Conclusion: Toward more sustainable trilateral cooperation

In facilitating the Japan–U.S.–South Korea trilateral partnership, President Yoon played a critical role in improving Seoul–Tokyo relations by accommodating Japan’s position on the forced labor issue, which the Japanese euphemistically refer to as “conscripted workers” [chōyōkō]. But U.S. policymakers are concerned about the sustainability of the trilateral partnership because there continues to be widespread criticism in South Korea about Yoon’s compromises toward Japan.78

Ideally, Japan and South Korea should use the current improvement in bilateral relations to promote reconciliation at the societal level and develop a shared rather than antagonistic historical perspective. Both countries should deepen and broaden educational, journalistic, and cultural exchanges to examine Japan’s colonial rule over Korea and strive toward a common understanding, or at least one in which there is a great deal of overlap.79Japanese and Korean filmmakers and artists could collaborate on projects to enhance accurate public awareness of the past in both countries. Unfortunately, there seems to be little political motivation on both sides to engage in the historical reconciliation task during this goodwill period. Therefore, at a minimum, the two countries, especially Japan, should exercise restraint to avoid provoking nationalistic emotions.80

In consolidating and institutionalizing the spirit of Camp David, U.S. policymakers are tempted to rely on an adversarial approach toward China and North Korea. But what would happen if in 2027 South Korea elected a progressive president — who would likely be less tolerant of Japan’s position on historical issues and favor stable relations with North Korea and China? This possibility has become more likely in the wake of South Korea’s recent National Assembly election, which dealt a severe blow to President Yoon and his conservative party.81As a result, tensions between Seoul and Tokyo could re–emerge and eventually hamper trilateral cooperation.  

Designing the trilateral partnership as a weapon against China and North Korea does not offer a reliable path toward sustainable cooperation. A better way to make the trilateral partnership sustainable and synergetic is to make it compatible with tension reduction, risk mitigation, and constructive engagement with China and North Korea. Such an approach better serves U.S. interests by allowing safer and more productive competition with China. It is also more likely to garner broader public support in both South Korea and Japan beyond the current political alignment between the two countries. 

Designing the trilateral partnership as a weapon against China and North Korea does not offer a reliable path toward sustainable cooperation.

Regarding maximizing trilateral synergy, U.S. policymakers should also think hard about expanding the theater of cooperation with Japan and South Korea beyond northeast Asia to link the trilateral with U.S. security networks in other regions.82 For example, the Biden administration has been seeking to involve South Korea and Japan in arming Ukraine against Russia as well as inviting them to NATO summits.83In this dynamic, both Yoon and Kishida have had to overcome domestic opposition against militarily assisting Ukraine, at the risk of undermining their already weak public support.84

Northeast Asia’s security issues involve manifold sensitive and complex questions that often require Japanese and South Korean leaders — especially the latter, who have to deal with sharp domestic divisions on foreign policy issues — to spend significant political capital making difficult choices. Trilateral engagement in multiple regional theaters can magnify security burdens, thereby requiring a greater allocation of political capital and resources. Broadening the geographic scope of the Japan–U.S.–South Korea trilateral may seem attractive at first glance, given Seoul and Tokyo’s interest in enhancing their international role and influence. But such an expansion risks diverting Japan and South Korea’s attention and energy away from the acute security challenges in northeast Asia.


  1. “The Spirit of Camp David: Joint Statement of Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United States,” The White House, August 18, 2023, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2023/08/18/the-spirit-of-camp-david-joint-statement-of-japan-the-republic-of-korea-and-the-united-states/

  2. Touluse Olorunnipa and Ellen Nakashima, “Biden declares ‘new era’ of partnership with South Korea and Japan,” The Washington Post, August 18, 2023,  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/08/18/biden-declares-new-era-partnership-with-south-korea-japan/; Mi-na Kim, “S. Korea, US, Japan declare trilateral military alliance in all but name.” Hankyoreh, August 21, 2023, https://www.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_international/1105182.html

  3. “Pacific Deterrence Initiative,” The U.S. Department of Defense, March 2023,  https://comptroller.defense.gov/Portals/45/Documents/defbudget/FY2024/FY2024_Pacific_Deterrence_Initiative.pdf. 

  4.  Demetri Sevastopulo and Kana Inagaki, “US and Japan plan biggest upgrade to security pact in over 60 years,” The Financial Times, March 24, 2024, https://www.ft.com/content/df99994d-ec4b-4c3c-9c42-738ec9b338d0

  5. Michael J. Mazarr, “Understanding Deterrence,” RAND Corporation, April 19, 2018, https://www.rand.org/pubs/perspectives/PE295.html

  6. Chung-in Moon and Jong-Yun Bae, “The Bush Doctrine and the North Korean Nuclear Crisis,” Asian Perspective 27, no. 4 (2003): 9–45. http://www.jstor.org/stable/42704429; Aidan Foster-Carter, “Obama Comes Out as an NK Collapsist,” 38 North, January 27, 2015, https://www.38north.org/2015/01/afostercarter012715/; David E. Sanger, “Talk of ‘Preventive War’ Rises in White House Over North Korea,” The New York Times, August 20, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/20/world/asia/north-korea-war-trump.html

  7. “Spokesman for Supreme Command of KPA Clarifies Important Measures to Be Taken by It,” KCNA Watch, May 3, 2013, https://kcnawatch.org/newstream/1451895555-935842349/spokesman-for-supreme-command-of-kpa-clarifies-important-measures-to-be-taken-by-it/

  8. “DPRK’s Law on Policy of Nuclear Forces Promulgated,” KCNA Watch, September 9, 2022, https://kcnawatch.org/newstream/1662721725-307939464/dprk%E2%80%99s-law-on-policy-of-nuclear-forces-promulgated/; Josh Smith, “Kim Jong Un’s ‘decapitation’ fears shine through in new North Korea nuclear law,” Reuters, September 9, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/kim-jong-uns-decapitation-fears-shine-through-new-nkorea-nuclear-law-2022-09-09/

  9. Foster-Carter. “Obama Comes Out as an NK Collapsist.”; Sang-in Cho, “볼튼 전 보좌관: “한반도 통일 목표 삼아야…북한 정권 오래 못 버틸 것” [Former national security advisor John Bolton: “Unifying Korea should be our goal…DPRK won’t last long.] VOA, October 3, 2023, https://www.voakorea.com/a/7293830.html; Hong-ki Lee, “아베 총리 “제재강화로 북 체제 붕괴될 수도” [Japanese PM Abe: “sanctions can possibly destroy the DPRK regime.”] Hankyoreh, October 12, 2006, https://www.hani.co.kr/arti/politics/defense/163785.html; Min-seo Kim, “북한붕괴론의 실체와 한계 [The truth and limits of North Korean collapse theory],” The East Asia Institute, February 26, 2013, https://www.eai.or.kr/new/ko/etc/search_view.asp?intSeq=3353&board=kor_eaiinmedia

  10. Abby Fanlo and Lauren Sukin, “The Disadvantage of Nuclear Superiority,” Security Studies 32, no. 3 (2023): 446–75. doi:10.1080/09636412.2023.2225779, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09636412.2023.2225779

  11. Han-joo Kim, “Yoon orders military to retaliate first, report later in case of enemy attacks,” Yonhap, December 28, 2023, https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20231228006500315; Josh Smith, “South Korea’s defence minister warns North Korea of ‘hell of destruction,’” Reuters, December 13, 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/skoreas-defence-minister-warns-north-korea-hell-destruction-2023-12-13/; Hyung-jin Kim, “South Korea defense chief threatens strikes on ‘heart and head’ of North Korea if provoked,” AP, December 8, 2023, https://apnews.com/article/south-korea-north-tensions-missile-nuclear-f365e5175c01012e2eb7dd274a4f1c24

  12. While consecutive South Korean governments — starting from the Lee Myung-bak administration in 2013 and throughout the previous Moon Jae-in administration — have invested in South Korea’s preemptive posture, the Yoon administration has ramped up the effort and sought to revitalize it in a much more visible form. Clint Work, “Navigating South Korea’s Plan for Preemption,” War on the Rocks, June 9, 2023, https://warontherocks.com/2023/06/south-koreas-plan-for-preemption/; Sang-ho Song, “S. Korea to create ‘strategic command’ to lead ‘three-axis’ system against N.K. threats,” Yonhap, July 6, 2022, https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20220706005400325; Da-gyum Ji, “Budget raised for defense system against N.Korean threats,” August 30, 2022, https://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20220830000650; Under the Yoon administration, South Korea’s defense white paper was revised to feature a detailed section on preemptive strategies. “한국형 3축 체계 상세 기술…북핵·미사일 대응 강조 [New defense white paper features a detailed section on preemptive system].” YTN, February 16, 2023, https://www.ytn.co.kr/_ln/0101_202302161201185150

  13. The 2022 U.S. National Defense Strategy bluntly states: “Any nuclear attack by North Korea against the United States or its Allies and partners is unacceptable and will result in the end of that regime. There is no scenario in which the Kim regime could employ nuclear weapons and survive.” “2022 National Defense Strategy of The United States of America,.” U.S. Department of Defense, October 27, 2022, https://media.defense.gov/2022/Oct/27/2003103845/-1/-1/1/2022-NATIONAL-DEFENSE-STRATEGY-NPR-MDR.PDF; Peter Baker and David E. Sanger, “In Turn to Deterrence, Biden Vows ‘End’ of North Korean Regime if It Attacks” The New York Times, April 26, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/26/us/politics/biden-south-korea-state-visit.html#:~:text=%E2%80%9CLook%2C%20a%20nuclear%20attack%20by,Garden%2C%20where%20he%20and%20Mr 

  14.  Sang-ho Yun, “S. Korea, U.S. to hold drills for N. Korean leadership removal and civilian support,” The Dong-a Ilbo, March 4, 2023, https://www.donga.com/en/article/all/20230304/3998914/1

  15. “National Security Strategy of Japan,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, December 2022, https://www.cas.go.jp/jp/siryou/221216anzenhoshou/nss-e.pdf

  16.  Bruce W. Bennett, “Japanese ‘Counterstrike’ May Be Good for ROK Security,” RAND Corporation, December 28, 2022, https://www.rand.org/pubs/commentary/2022/12/japanese-counterstrike-may-be-good-for-rok-security.html

  17. For instance, one influential expert and former U.S. official has recently advocated a U.S. declaratory policy to preempt North Korea. Victor Cha, “Security on the Korean Peninsula,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, October 4, 2023, https://www.csis.org/analysis/security-korean-peninsula 

  18. Adam Mount, “North Korea’s Tactical Nuclear Threshold Is Frighteningly Low,” Foreign Policy, December 8, 2022, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/12/08/north-korea-tactical-nuclear-threat/; Ankit Panda, “North Korea’s Tactical Nuclear Plans Are a Dangerous Proposition,” Foreign Policy, April 28, 2022, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/04/28/north-korea-tactical-nuclear-plans-dangerous-proposition/

  19. Mark F. Cancian,  Matthew Cancian, and Eric Heginbotham, “The First Battle of the Next War: Wargaming a Chinese Invasion of Taiwan,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, January 9, 2023, https://www.csis.org/analysis/first-battle-next-war-wargaming-chinese-invasion-taiwan

  20. Jennifer Welch et al, “Xi, Biden and the $10 Trillion Cost of War Over Taiwan,” Bloomberg, January 8, 2024, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2024-01-09/if-china-invades-taiwan-it-would-cost-world-economy-10-trillion; Mark F. Cancian, Matthew Cancian, and Eric Heginbotham,”The First Battle of the Next War: Wargaming a Chinese Invasion of Taiwan,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, January 9, 2023, https://www.csis.org/analysis/first-battle-next-war-wargaming-chinese-invasion-taiwan

  21. M. Taylor Fravel, “China’s Potential Lessons from Ukraine for Conflict over Taiwan,” The Washington Quarterly 46, no. 3 (2023): 7–25. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/citedby/10.1080/0163660X.2023.2260141?scroll=top&needAccess=true; Jack Lau and Minnie Chan, “We will fight to the very end, Chinese defence chief warns on Taiwan independence,” South China Morning Post, June 12, 2022, https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/3181379/chinas-defence-chief-accuses-us-trying-hijack-countries-region

  22. Jessica Chen Weiss, , Powerful Patriots: Nationalist Protest in China’s Foreign Relations, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2014; Alison Adcock Kaufman, “The ‘Century of Humiliation,’ Then and Now: Chinese Perceptions of the International Order,” Pacific Focus 25 no.1 (April 2010). https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1976-5118.2010.01039.x

  23.  Robert S. Ross, “The 1995–96 Taiwan Strait Confrontation: Coercion, Credibility, and the Use of Force,” International Security 25, no. 2 (2000): 87–123. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2626754

  24. The Future of U.S. Policy on Taiwan: Testimony Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 117th Cong. (2021) (Statement by Ely Ratner, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Office of the Secretary of Defense). https://www.foreign.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/120821_Ratner_Testimony1.pdf; Defense Cooperation with Taiwan: Testimony Before the House Armed Services Committee, 118th Cong. (2023) (Statement by Ely Ratner, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Office of the Secretary of Defense). https://armedservices.house.gov/sites/republicans.armedservices.house.gov/files/09.19.23%20Ratner%20Statement_0.pdf

  25. Michael D. Swaine, “US official signals stunning shift in the way we interpret ‘One China’ policy,” Responsible Statecraft, December 10, 2021, https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2021/12/10/us-official-signals-stunning-shift-in-the-way-we-interpret-one-china-policy/; Paul Heer, “Has Washington’s Policy Toward Taiwan Crossed the Rubicon?,” The National Interest, December 10, 2021, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/has-washington%E2%80%99s-policy-toward-taiwan-crossed-rubicon-197877; Charles Hutzler, Joyu Wang, and James T. Areddy, “Biden’s Pledge to Defend Taiwan Chips Away at Longstanding U.S. Policy,” The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2022,  https://www.wsj.com/articles/bidens-pledge-to-defend-taiwan-chips-away-at-longstanding-u-s-policy-11663962151; Kevin Liptak, “Biden says Taiwan’s independence is up to Taiwan after discussing matter with Xi,” CNN, November 16, 2021, https://edition.cnn.com/2021/11/16/politics/biden-china-taiwan/index.html

  26. Michael D. Swaine, “Stabilizing the Growing Taiwan Crisis: New Messaging and Understandings are Urgently Needed,” Quincy Institute, March 12, 2024, https://quincyinst.org/research/stabilizing-the-growing-taiwan-crisis-new-messaging-and-understandings-are-urgently-needed/; Michael D. Swaine, “Only Credible Assurances Can Stabilize U.S.-China Relations,” World Politics Review, March 13, 2024, https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/us-china-relations-biden-xi/; Bonnie S. Glaser, Jessica Chen Weiss and Thomas J. Christensen, “Taiwan and the True Sources of Deterrence,” Foreign Affairs, November 30, 2023, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/taiwan/taiwan-china-true-sources-deterrence

  27.  In the September 1972 Japan–China normalization communique, the Japanese government stated that it fully understands and respects China’s stand that “Taiwan is an inalienable part of the territory of the People’s Republic of China.” For more detail, see “Joint Communique of the Government of Japan and the Government of the People’s Republic of China,” September 29, 1972, https://www.mofa.go.jp/region/asia-paci/china/joint72.html

  28. According to a declassified May 1978 record prepared by the China Section of the Asia Bureau of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the 1972 Japan–China normalization negotiations, Japan agreed with China that “Taiwan is the territory of the People’s Republic of China and the liberation of Taiwan is a domestic issue for China.” For more detail, see “September 1972 Tacit Agreement between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of Japan,” Wilson Center Digital Archive: International History Declassified, https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/tacit-agreement-between-government-peoples-republic-china-and-government-japan 

  29. In the November 1998 Japan–China Joint Declaration, the Japanese government reiterated “its understanding that there is one China.” During his summit meeting with Jiang Zemin at this time, Prime Minister Obuchi orally stated that Japan does not support the independence of Taiwan. “’Rekishi – Taiwan ha Nitchū no konkan’ Jiang Zemin Chūgoku Shuseki, Nitchū shunō kaidan de genkyū [History and Taiwan are fundamental to Japan-China, Chinese leader Jiang Zemin states at Japan-China summit],” Asahi Shimbun, November 27, 1998. 

  30. The 1998 Japan–China Joint Declaration confirmed that “Japan will continue to maintain its exchanges of private and regional nature with Taiwan.” See “Japan–China Joint Declaration on Building a Partnership of Friendship and Cooperation for Peace and Development,” November 26, 1998, https://www.mofa.go.jp/region/asia-paci/china/visit98/joint.html#:~:text=Both%20sides%20reaffirmed%20that%20the%20Japan%2DChina%20relationship%20is%20one,partnership%20of%20friendship%20and%20cooperation

  31.  Japan has tended to only reaffirm that it will continue to abide by the 1972 normalization statement. See “Joint Statement between the Government of Japan and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Comprehensive Promotion of a Mutually Beneficial Relationship Based on Common Strategic Interests,” May 7, 2008, https://worldjpn.net/documents/texts/JPCH/20080507.D1E.html; and “Japan–China Summit Meeting,” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, November 16, 2023, https://www.mofa.go.jp/a_o/c_m1/cn/page1e_000814.html

  32. Jesse Johnson, “Taiwan situation ‘tilting toward emergency,’ former Japan PM says,” The Japan Times, August 8, 2023, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2023/08/08/japan/politics/taro-aso-taiwan-speech/

  33. “Japan elevates Taiwan security ties in move likely to rile China,” Asahi Shimbun Asia and Japan Watch, September 13, 2023, https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/15004254

  34. South Korea recognized that there is only one China, recognized PRC as the sole legal government of China, and respected the Chinese position that Taiwan is a part of China. See “「한­중 수교」 공동성명 전문 [Full text: The Joint Statement of ROK-China normalization].” Joongang Daily, August 23, 1992, https://www.joongang.co.kr/article/2739332#home

  35. “한·중 정상회담 공동성명 (전문) [Full Text: ROK-China Leadership Summit Joint Statement],” Korea.kr, November 16, 1998, https://www.korea.kr/briefing/policyBriefingView.do?newsId=148747600&gubun=&pageIndex=&srchType=&srchWord=&startDate=&endDate=#policyBriefing; “한.중, 대만문제 기존 입장 재확인 [ROK, China Reaffirm their original understandings on the Taiwan issue],” Yonhap, July 9, 2023, https://www.yna.co.kr/view/AKR20030709001800014; “[전문] 한·중 정상회담 공동성명 [Full Text: ROK-China Leadership Summit Joint Statement],” August 25, 2008, https://www.korea.kr/news/policyNewsView.do?newsId=148656423; “[전문] 박 대통령-시 주석 채택 한·중 공동성명 [Full Text: Joint Statement of President Park Geun-hye and General Secretary Xi Jinping.]” Korea.kr, July 3, 2014, https://www.korea.kr/briefing/policyBriefingView.do?newsId=148780920#policyBriefing

  36. The Moon administration’s reluctance may have stemmed from its keenness to stay out of sensitive U.S.–China issues. On the other hand, the Yoon administration’s reluctance may reflect closer alignment with the United States against China. Seung-yeon Kim, “South Korea, China exchange harsh words over Yoon’s remarks on Taiwan,” Yonhap, April 20, 2023, https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20230420009200320

  37. Under the previous Moon administration, then-foreign minister Chung Eui-yong publicly endorsed the One China policy in informal settings, such as TV interviews. See “KBS 뉴스9 정의용 외교부 장관 인터뷰 전문 [Full text of interview with Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong].” KBS News, May 24, 2021, https://news.kbs.co.kr/news/pc/view/view.do?ncd=5192735; Chung also reaffirmed the One China policy in meetings with Chinese counterparts, according to Chinese readouts. But this was left out from South Korean readouts. See “Wang Yi Speaks with ROK’s Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong on the Phone., Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, June 9, 2021, https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/gjhdq_665435/2675_665437/2767_663538/2769_663542/202106/t20210610_9168762.html and “Press Release: Outcome of Telephone Conversation between Korean and Chinese Ministers of Foreign Affairs,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Republic of Korea, June 10, 2021, https://www.korea.net/Government/Briefing-Room/Press-Releases/view?articleId=5633&type=O; Similarly, Yoon administration officials have verbally endorsed the One China policy but not in official readouts or documents. See “FM meets ROK’s new FM via video link.” The State Council of the People’s Republic of China, May 18, 2022, https://english.www.gov.cn/statecouncil/wangyi/202205/18/content_WS6283cf85c6d02e533532acd8.html and “Outcome of Korea-China Foreign Ministers’ Virtual Meeting,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Republic of Korea, May 17, 2022, https://www.mofa.go.kr/eng/brd/m_5676/view.do?seq=322045&page=1; Jung-soo Lee, “주중대사, 中에 “한국은 ‘하나의 중국’ 존중한다” 입장 전달 [ROK ambassador reaffirms South Korean adherence to “one China.”] Seoul Shinmun, April 23, 2023, https://www.seoul.co.kr/news/politics/diplomacy/2023/04/23/20230423500106; Hye-kyung Han, “박진 “하나의 중국 지지…대만해협 평화, 韓에 중요 [Park Jin: “South Korea supports “one China…peace in the Taiwan Strait is important for ROK.”] Maeil Gyongjae, August 5, 2022, https://www.mk.co.kr/news/politics/10413211

  38. Hyeong-cheol Shin, “China protests Taiwanese minister’s virtual address to democracy forum in Seoul.” Hankyoreh, March 19, 2024, https://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_international/1132957; “China protests Taiwan minister’s role at Seoul summit backed by U.S,” Reuters, March 18, 2024, https://www.reuters.com/world/china-protests-taiwan-ministers-role-seoul-summit-backed-by-us-2024-03-18/#:~:text=SEOUL%2C%20March%2018%20(Reuters),delivered%20an%20unannounced%20video%20message

  39.  “The Spirit of Camp David: Joint Statement of Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United States.”; “Phnom Penh Statement on US – Japan – Republic of Korea Trilateral Partnership for the Indo-Pacific,” The White House, November 13, 2022, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/11/13/phnom-penh-statement-on-trilateral-partnership-for-the-indo-pacific/

  40. Ella Cao, “China, Russia begin joint drills in Sea of Japan, Chinese state media report,” Reuters, July 20, 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/china-russia-begin-joint-drills-sea-japan-chinese-state-media-2023-07-20/#:~:text=BEIJING%2C%20July%2020%20(Reuters),carry%20out%20drills%2C%20CCTV%20reported; “Russian and Chinese ships patrolled ‘near Alaska’ but were not ‘a threat,’ US officials say,” ABC News, August 6, 2023, https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/russian-chinese-ships-patrolled-alaska-threat-us-officials/story?id=102058344; Dzirhan Mahadzir, “Russian, Chinese Warships in East China Sea After Sailing Near Alaska,” U.S. Naval Institute, August 17, 2023, https://news.usni.org/2023/08/17/russian-chinese-warships-in-east-china-sea-after-sailing-near-alaska

  41. Richard Roth, et al, “Russia protects North Korea in the UN with veto of resolution to investigate sanction violations,” CNN, March 29, 2024, https://www.cnn.com/2024/03/29/asia/russia-veto-un-sanctions-north-korea-intl-hnk/index.html; Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., Victor Cha, and Jennifer Jun, “Major Munitions Transfers from North Korea to Russia,” Beyond Parallel, February 18, 2024, https://beyondparallel.csis.org/major-munitions-transfers-from-north-korea-to-russia/; Christian Davies, “Russia supplies oil to North Korea as UN sanctions regime nears ‘collapse,’” The Financial Times, March 26, 2024, https://www.ft.com/content/df23a473-ea0b-4882-be19-048ae0d501d2; What was exactly agreed between Putin and Kim September 2023 is unknown, but analysts suspect that their cooperation may include Russian technological assistance with North Korea’s development of reconnaissance satellites, air and naval capabilities, and nuclear-powered submarines. See Samuel Ramani, “Russia and North Korea: A Growing Strategic Partnership,” 38 North, November 17, 2023, https://www.38north.org/2023/11/russia-and-north-korea-a-growing-strategic-partnership/ and Seong-Chang Cheong, “Kim Jong Un’s order to prepare for “pacification” of the South in the event of a war and assessing the ruptured ties with North Korea,” Sejong Institute, February 7, 2024, https://www.sejong.org/web/boad/1/egoread.php?bd=3&itm=&txt=&pg=1&seq=7561

  42. Ben Frohman, Emma Rafaelof, and Alexis Dale-Huang, “The China-North Korea Strategic Rift: Background and Implications for the United States,” U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, January 24, 2022, https://www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/2022-01/China-North_Korea_Strategic_Rift.pdf; Bruce W. Bennett, “North Korea and China Aren’t the Allies You Think They Are,” RAND Corporation, September 27, 2023, https://www.rand.org/pubs/commentary/2023/09/north-korea-and-china-arent-the-allies-you-think-they.html

  43. Oriana Skylar Mastro, “The Next Tripartite Pact?” Foreign Affairs, February 19, 2024, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/china/next-tripartite-pact

  44. Rick Gladstone, “U.N. Security Council Imposes Punishing New Sanctions on North Korea,” The New York Times, August 5, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/05/world/asia/north-korea-sanctions-united-nations.html; Simon Denyer, “China suspends North Korean coal imports, striking at regime’s financial lifeline,” The Washington Post, February 18, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/china-suspends-north-koreas-coal-imports-striking-at-regimes-financial-lifeline/2017/02/18/8390b0e6-f5df-11e6-a9b0-ecee7ce475fc_story.html

  45. Robert S. Ross, “US-Korea policy: Is it all about China?” Responsible Statecraft, July 26, 2023, https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2023/07/26/us-korea-policy-is-it-all-about-china/; Robert S. Ross, “China Looks at the Korean Peninsula: The ‘Two Transitions,’” Survival 63, no. 6 (2021): 129–58. doi:10.1080/00396338.2021.2006455. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00396338.2021.2006455?scroll=top&needAccess=true&role=tab; Sungmin Cho and Oriana Skylar Mastro, “North Korea Is Becoming an Asset for China.” Foreign Affairs, February 3, 2022, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/north-korea/2022-02-03/north-korea-becoming-asset-china; Susan A. Thornton, Li Nan, and Juliet Lee, “Debating North Korea: US and Chinese perspectives.” Brookings Institution, August 27, 2021, https://www.brookings.edu/articles/debating-north-korea-us-and-chinese-perspectives/

  46. Russia reportedly has already proposed trilateral naval drills starting in September 2023, but China is known to have refused. Christian Davies, “Russia proposes joint naval drills with North Korea and China,” The Financial Times, September 4, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/807b232b-1652-4574-8368-ad7ced8d66d4

  47. Tong-hyung Kim, “The US, South Korea and Japan conduct naval drills in a show of strength against North Korea,” AP, January 17, 2024, https://apnews.com/article/us-south-korea-japan-naval-exercise-north-korea-e04d3adef36799f6f31b3ba2643ff2fe; “Japan, U.S. and South Korea hold first joint air drills,” The Japan Times, October 23, 2023, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2023/10/23/japan/politics/south-korea-us-japan-drills/

  48. Michelle Nichols, “After veto on North Korea, China says ‘let’s see’ on U.N. action over a nuclear test,” Reuters, June 9, 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/after-veto-north-korea-china-says-lets-see-un-action-over-nuclear-test-2022-06-09/

  49. Jake Werner, “Competition Versus Exclusion in U.S.–China Relations: A Choice Between Stability and Conflict,” Quincy Institute, September 2023, https://quincyinst.org/research/competition-versus-exclusion-in-u-s-china-relations-a-choice-between-stability-and-conflict/

  50. Facts, lessons still need to be told 78 years after Japan surrender in war,” The Global Times, August 14, 2023. https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202308/1296263.shtml; Rhoda Kwan and Meredith Chen, “From kimonos to canceled festivals, Japanese culture faces growing hostility across China,” NBC News, September 3, 2022, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/kimonos-canceled-festivals-japanese-culture-faces-growing-hostility-ch-rcna39970

  51. Such North Korean thinking would assume that precise and “controlled” nuclear strikes carry less risk of extreme U.S.-South Korean escalation that will put its regime at stake. Mount. “North Korea’s Tactical Nuclear Threshold Is Frighteningly Low.”; Robert E. Kelly, “Why North Korea may use nuclear weapons first, and why current US policy toward Pyongyang is unsustainable.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November 21, 2023, https://thebulletin.org/2023/11/why-north-korea-may-use-nuclear-weapons-first-and-why-current-us-policy-toward-pyongyang-is-unsustainable/

  52. Ankit Panda provides a scenario of an early North Korean attempt to control escalation: Pyongyang can seek limited nuclear strikes early on in a crisis against narrower military targets, believing that threatening larger attacks on populated locations can compel the United States and South Korea (as well as Japan) to end the crisis without escalating further. Panda. “North Korea’s Tactical Nuclear Plans Are a Dangerous Proposition.” 

  53. Cha.“Security on the Korean Peninsula.” 

  54. Adam Mount, “Increasing Stability in a Deterrence Relationship with North Korea,” United States Institute of Peace, March 4, 2024, https://www.usip.org/publications/2024/03/increasing-stability-deterrence-relationship-north-korea

  55.  Ankit Panda, “South Korea’s “Decapitation” Strategy Against North Korea Has More Risks Than Benefits,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, August 15, 2022, https://carnegieendowment.org/2022/08/15/south-korea-s-decapitation-strategy-against-north-korea-has-more-risks-than-benefits-pub-87672; Lauren Sukin, “Why Calls for Regime Change in North Korea Can Be Counterproductive,” USIP, February 20, 2024, https://www.usip.org/publications/2024/02/why-calls-regime-change-north-korea-can-be-counterproductive; Haye-ah Lee, “Yoon vows multiple-times stronger punishment in event of NK provocation,” Yonhap, January 16, 2024, https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20240116003000315#:~:text=16%20(Yonhap)%20%2D%2D%20President%20Yoon,South%20Korea%20as%20the%20%22No; Han-joo Kim, “Yoon orders military to retaliate first, report later in case of enemy attacks,” Yonhap, December 28, 2023, https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20231228006500315; Yun-hwan Chae, “Defense chief calls for capabilities to ‘swiftly eliminate’ NK leadership in event of war,” Yonhap, March 13, 2024, https://m-en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20240313006851315?section=news

  56. “US prevented South Korean air strike on North, says Robert Gates,” AFP News, January 14, 2014,  https://sg.news.yahoo.com/us-prevented-south-korea-air-strike-north-says-030845894.html; “Ex-President Lee ordered all-out retaliation after North’s Yeonpyeong bombardment in 2010,” Yonhap, December 13, 2015, https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20151213000900315

  57. Lisa Curtis, Evan Wright, and Hannah Kelley, “Forging a New Era of U.S.-Japan-South Korea Trilateral Cooperation,” Center for a New American Security, March 21, 2024, https://www.cnas.org/publications/reports/forging-a-new-era-of-u-s-japan-south-korea-trilateral-cooperation; Victor Cha et al, “CSIS Alliance Commission: North Korea Policy & Extended Deterrence,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, January 19, 2023, https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/2023-01/230119_Korean_Commission_2023.pdf?VersionId=93zTcEue3STUbr6v8IfjQ6z6B_3mNTr4; Bruce Klingner, “2023 Camp David Summit Strengthened Allied Cooperation Against Indo–Pacific Threats,” The Heritage Foundation, September 8, 2023, https://www.heritage.org/asia/report/2023-camp-david-summit-strengthened-allied-cooperation-against-indo-pacific-threats; Sue Mi Terry, “The New North Korean Threat,” Foreign Affairs, January 19, 2023, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/north-korea/new-north-korean-threat; David Choi, “Former CIA officials make case for US, South Korea military drills,” Stars and Stripes, April 7, 2023, https://www.stripes.com/theaters/asia_pacific/2023-04-07/south-korea-joint-military-exercises-9730479.html

  58. Jordan Bernhardt and Lauren Sukin, “Joint Military Exercises and Crisis Dynamics on the Korean Peninsula,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 65, no. 5 (November 25, 2020): 855–88. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022002720972180

  59. Peter K. Lee and Kang Chungku. “Comparing Allied Public Confidence in U.S. Extended Nuclear Deterrence,” The Asan Institute for Policy Studies, March 27, 2024, https://en.asaninst.org/contents/comparing-allied-public-confidence-in-u-s-extended-nuclear-deterrence/

  60. Van Jackson, “The Trouble With The US Bomber Overflight Against North Korea,” The Diplomat, January 12, 2016, https://thediplomat.com/2016/01/the-trouble-with-the-us-bomber-overflight-against-north-korea/.; “U.S., Japan, Republic of Korea Conduct Third Trilateral Aerial Exercise,” U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, April 2, 2024, https://www.pacom.mil/Media/News/News-Article-View/Article/3728561/us-japan-republic-of-korea-conduct-third-trilateral-aerial-exercise/

  61. Panda, “South Korea’s “Decapitation” Strategy Against North Korea Has More Risks Than Benefits.”; Yun, “S. Korea, U.S. to hold drills for N. Korean leadership removal and civilian support.” 

  62. Swaine, “Stabilizing the Growing Taiwan Crisis: New Messaging and Understandings are Urgently Needed.” 

  63. While Lai has expressed his commitment to the status quo, there is a possibility that his rhetoric will shift. For example, Lai had previously pledged to upgrade Taiwan’s relationship with the United States to an unprecedented level and become the first Taiwanese president to visit the White House. “Lai explains approach to independence,” Taipei Times, April 16, 2018, https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2018/04/16/2003691399. Former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian also backtracked on his initial moderate pledge to maintain the status quo and pursued independence. Shelley Rigger, “Notes for the Conference on Taiwan and US Policy: Toward Stability or Crisis? The Role of Domestic Politics: Taiwan,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, October 9, 2002, https://carnegieendowment.org/files/rigger_paper_100902.pdf

  64. “美 사령관, 대만 유사시에 “한국 군이 동맹의 힘을 보여주길” [U.S. general hopes to see South Korean contribution in a Taiwan contingency].” Channel A News, April 7, 2024. https://www.ichannela.com/news/main/news_detailPage.do?publishId=000000402955; Sang-min Lee, “브룩스 전 사령관 “대만 유사시 주한미군 투입 가능” [Former USFK General Brooks: “U.S. forces in South Korea could be used for Taiwan contingency operations.”] Radia Free Asia, March 15, 2024. https://www.rfa.org/korean/in_focus/nk_nuclear_talks/nkmissile-03152024154748.html

  65. In a 2023 Japanese survey, 56 percent of those polled stated that the Self-Defense Force role should be limited to rearguard support for the U.S. military, while only 11 percent favored the SDF using force with the U.S. military. Twenty-seven percent  believed that the SDF should not cooperate with the U.S. military. Taizo Teramoto, “Asahi poll: 56% want only SDF rear support to U.S. in event of Taiwan crisis,” Asahi Shimbun Asia and Japan Watch, May 1, 2023, https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14898395; In a 2022 South Korean survey study, 42 percent of South Koreans favored only a rearview support role and 22 percent approved direct participation in U.S. operations. https://www.joongang.co.kr/article/25096081#home

  66.  Shuxian Luo, “China-South Korea Disputes in the Yellow Sea: Why a More Conciliatory Chinese Posture,” Journal of Contemporary China 31, no. 138 (2022): 913–30, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/10670564.2022.2030999; Adam P. Liff, “China, Japan, and the East China Sea: Beijing’s “gray zone” coercion and Tokyo’s response,” Brookings Institution, December 2019, https://www.brookings.edu/articles/china-japan-and-the-east-china-sea-beijings-gray-zone-coercion-and-tokyos-response/; Mike Mochizuki and Jiaxiu Han, “Is China Escalating Tensions With Japan in the East China Sea?,” The Diplomat, September 16, 2020, https://thediplomat.com/2020/09/is-china-escalating-tensions-with-japan-in-the-east-china-sea/

  67. This defensive–denial approach is explained more in detail in: Rachel Esplin Odell and Eric Heginbotham et al, “Active Denial: A Roadmap to a More Effective, Stabilizing, and Sustainable U.S. Defense Strategy in Asia,” Also see Mike Mochizuki, “Tokyo’s Taiwan Conundrum: What Can Japan Do to Prevent War?” The Washington Quarterly 45, no. 3 (2022): 81–107. doi:10.1080/0163660X.2022.2127881. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0163660X.2022.2127881

  68. Odell and Heginbotham et al, “Active Denial: A Roadmap to a More Effective, Stabilizing, and Sustainable U.S. Defense Strategy in Asia.”; Mochizuki, “Tokyo’s Taiwan Conundrum: What Can Japan Do to Prevent War?.” 

  69. Cheol-hee Park, “대만 문제는 강 건너 불이 아니다 [The Taiwan issue is not merely a fire on the other side of the river],” Seoul Shinmun, December 18, 2022, https://www.seoul.co.kr/news/editOpinion/opinion/parkch_global/2022/12/19/20221219027014; Sungmin Cho, “South Korea’s Taiwan Conundrum,” War on the Rocks, December 31, 2021, https://warontherocks.com/2021/12/south-koreas-taiwan-conundrum/

  70. “Remarks by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Renewing American Economic Leadership at the Brookings,” The White House, April 27, 2023, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2023/04/27/remarks-by-national-security-advisor-jake-sullivan-on-renewing-american-economic-leadership-at-the-brookings-institution/

  71. “The Spirit of Camp David: Joint Statement of Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United States.”; Mackenzie Hawkins and Sam Kim,“US Asks South Korea to Toughen Export Curbs on China Chips,” Bloomberg, April 2, 2024, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-04-02/us-asks-south-korea-to-toughen-up-export-controls-on-china-chips

  72. Cameron Cavanagh, “U.S. Economic Restrictions on China: Small Yard, High Fence?,” Georgetown Security Studies Review, December 26, 2023, https://georgetownsecuritystudiesreview.org/2023/12/26/u-s-economic-restrictions-on-china-small-yard-high-fence/; Jon Bateman, “The Fevered Anti-China Attitude in Washington Is Going to Backfire,” Politico, December 15, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2022/12/15/china-tech-decoupling-sanctions-00071723

  73. Joe McDonald, “China accuses US of trying to block its development and demands that technology curbs be repealed,” AP, August 10, 2023, https://apnews.com/article/china-united-states-biden-technology-investment-0874812b489913de74b76128a37cb66c

  74.  “President Xi Jinping Speaks with U.S. President Joe Biden on the Phone,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, April 2, 2024, https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/zxxx_662805/202404/t20240403_11275451.html; “Xi Rallies China to Overcome ‘Containment’ in Direct Shot at US,” Bloomberg, March 6, 2023, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-03-06/china-s-xi-pledges-to-boost-confidence-in-private-sector

  75. These points draw on “Asia’s Future” Research Group, “Asia’s Future at a Crossroads: A Japanese Strategy for Peace and Sustainable Prosperity,” July 2023, pg 33-35. https://sigur.elliott.gwu.edu/project/asias-future-at-a-crossroads-a-japanese-strategy-for-peace-and-sustainable-prosperity/; and Mochizuki, “Tokyo’s Taiwan Conundrum: What Can Japan Do to Prevent War?” 

  76. Wonju Yi, “S. Korea, China, Japan in talks to set date for trilateral summit next month,” Yonhap, April 5, 2024, https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20240405001600315

  77.  Xirui Li, “What’s Next for the Long-Awaited China-Japan-South Korea FTA?,” The Diplomat, January 28, 2022, https://thediplomat.com/2022/01/whats-next-for-the-long-awaited-china-japan-south-korea-fta/

  78. Minji Lee, “59 pct oppose forced labor compensation plan: poll,” Yonhap, March 10, 2023,   https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20230310005500315; “Crowds Protest South Korea’s Plan With Japan on Forced-Labor Dispute,” The Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/video/crowds-protest-south-koreas-plan-with-japan-on-forced-labor-dispute/B0E69284-8436-455F-BAE8-6EA2D2BD5520

  79. Tom Phuong Le, “Japan, South Korea Must Address Mounting ‘Debt’ of Historical Atrocities,” United States Institute of Peace, February 1, 2023, https://www.usip.org/publications/2023/02/japan-south-korea-must-address-mounting-debt-historical-atrocities; Seiko Mimaki, “Worst Time since the End of WWII? -Toward Societal Reconciliation Between Japan and Korea.” S/N Korean Humanities Vol. 6, Issue 2 (August 2020), https://www.snkh.org/include/download_files/v6/2_35-62.pdf

  80. What is worrisome is that recent developments in Japan risk undermining the current positive atmosphere in Japan–South Korea relations. “Gunma pref. shuns South Korean request for meeting over monument removal,” Kyodo News, March 28, 2024; and Sven Saaler, “Demolition Men: The Unmaking of a Memorial Commemorating Wartime Forced Laborers in Gunma (Japan),” Asia-Pacific Journal Japan Focus Vol. 20, Issue 16, No. 14 (September 15, 2022). https://apjjf.org/2022/16/saalerhttps://english.kyodonews.net/news/2024/03/0cb4ea486038-gunma-pref-shuns-s-korean-request-for-meeting-over-monument-removal.html?phrase=ANA&words=

  81. Hyung-jin Kim, “Exit polls suggest a big win by South Korea’s liberal opposition parties in parliamentary election,” AP, April 10, 2024, https://apnews.com/article/south-korea-parliamentary-election-yoon-c362a024e6eff3d4a410927be00b4d0c

  82. Chung-in Moon, “Asia-Pacific vs. Indo-Pacific: Paradigm Shift or False Choice?,” Global Asia, September 2023, https://www.globalasia.org/v18no3/cover/asia-pacific-vs-indo-pacific-paradigm-shift-or-false-choice_chung-in-moon

  83. Ryo Nakamura, “NATO eyes joint summit statement with Japan and South Korea,” Nikkei Asia, February 16, 2023, https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/NATO-eyes-joint-summit-statement-with-Japan-and-South-Korea; Sang-ho Song, “S. Korea indirectly supplied more 155–mm shells for Ukraine than all European countries combined: WP,” Yonhap, December 5, 2023, https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20231205000300315; “Japan to Proceed with “Indirect Military Aid” to Ukraine,” The Japan News, February 25, 2024, https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/politics/defense-security/20240225-170945/; Yoshiaki Nohara, “US, Japan Mull Defense Cooperation That Could Help Ukraine, Yomiuri Says,” Bloomberg, March 9, 2024, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-03-10/us-japan-mull-defense-cooperation-that-could-help-ukraine-yomiuri-says; Sang-ho Song, “U.S. diplomat voices hope for S. Korea to offer more defense material support to Ukraine,” Yonhap, February 27, 2024, https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20240227002700315

  84. In a 2022 South Korean poll, 72 percent of South Koreans opposed sending weapons to Ukraine. “7 in 10 S. Koreans only support non-lethal aid for Ukraine: survey,” Yonhap, June 24, 2022, https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20220624007900315; According to a 2023 Japanese poll, 76% opposed exporting weapons to Ukraine. Gabriel Ninivaggi, “What is keeping Japan from sending weapons to Ukraine?,” The Japan Times, April 11, 2023, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2023/04/11/national/politics-diplomacy/japan-weapon-exports-ukraine-debate/; Shioko Ueda and Kosuke Sekimoto, “Japan PM Kishida’s approval rating mired near record low,” Nikkei Japan, March 25, 2024, https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Japan-PM-Kishida-s-approval-rating-mired-near-record-low; Han-joo Kim, “Yoon’s approval rating drops to 34 percent ahead of parliamentary elections: Yonhap News survey,” April 3, 2024, https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20240402010700315