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Asia Unbound

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Showing posts for "History"

Podcast: The Origins of the American Alliance System in Asia

by Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. and Japan Self-Defence Force's soldiers listen a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama during his visits at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, enroute to Hiroshima, Japan May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria U.S. and Japan Self-Defence Force's soldiers listen a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, enroute to Hiroshima, Japan on May 27, 2016. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Harvard Professor Joseph Nye once said that “security is like oxygen: you do not tend to notice it until you begin to lose it.” Alliances also often function like oxygen, with the security and stability they provide going underappreciated argues Victor Cha, the director of Asian studies and D.S. Song-Korea Foundation professor of government and international affairs at Georgetown University. Read more »

Podcast: The True Story of North Korea’s Abduction Project

by Elizabeth C. Economy
A rally celebrating the success of a recent nuclear test is held in Kim Il Sung square in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 13, 2016. KCNA/via Reuters A rally held in North Korea’s Kim Il Sung square in an undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang (KCNA/via Reuters)

On this week’s Asia Unbound podcast, Robert Boynton, the author of The Invitation-Only Zone: The True Story of North Korea’s Abduction Project, takes us inside Pyongyang’s strange and sinister program to recruit spies and language teachers by seizing foreign nationals. More than a dozen Japanese citizens vanished from coastal cities without a trace in the 1970s and 1980s. Read more »

Securing Strategic Buffer Space: Case Studies and Implications for U.S. Global Strategy

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
A world map from 1507 world map by cartographer Martin Waldseemuller is pictured in this handout image from the Library of Congress. The map shows two continents across the ocean from Europe, with a skinny isthmus between them, an embryonic Florida peninsula, a western mountain range on the northern continent, and on the southern continent, a clearly-lettered name: "America", the first known recorded instance of the use of the name. The Library of Congress acquired the 1507 map in 2003 for $10 million. (Reuters/Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress/Handout) A world map from 1507 world map by cartographer Martin Waldseemuller is pictured in this handout image from the Library of Congress. The map shows two continents across the ocean from Europe, with a skinny isthmus between them, an embryonic Florida peninsula, a western mountain range on the northern continent, and on the southern continent, a clearly-lettered name: "America", the first known recorded instance of the use of the name. The Library of Congress acquired the 1507 map in 2003 for $10 million. (Reuters/Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress/Handout)

Sungtae “Jacky” Park is research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.

A series of geopolitical fault lines are coming apart today. There is a hybrid conflict in Ukraine, an arc of destruction from the Levant to Iraq, rising tensions on the Korean peninsula, and instability in the southern Caucasus, just to name a few. What these conflicts have in common is that they are taking place in strategic buffer zones, physical spaces caught between competing regional powers. To address these problems by drawing lessons from the past, my paper for the Center for the National Interest, completed in September and published in October, examines four major cases of strategic buffer space conflicts: the Belgian crisis of 1830-1831, Byzantine-Sassanid and Ottoman-Safavid wars, China-Japan-Russia competition over Korea during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and the Balkan powder keg that led to World War I. A brief summary of the four case studies can be found in The National Interest. Read more »

Podcast: The Changing Face of Myanmar

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Porters wait for business in an older part of Yangon December 3, 2011. Hours after Hillary Clinton finished the first visit in more than half a century by a U.S. Secretary of State to Myanmar, property prices began to soar. The price hike reflects shoots of optimism among investors sizing up the resource-rich, former British colony following the most dramatic changes since the military took power in what was then known as Burma in a 1962 coup. To match Insight MYANMAR-INVESTMENT/ REUTERS/Damir Sagolj Porters wait for business in an older part of Yangon. Property prices in the city increased dramatically following Hillary Clinton’s visit to Myanmar in 2011, with the price hike reflecting shoots of optimism among investors about the opening of the resource-rich, former British colony. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

On this week’s Asia Unbound podcast, Richard Cockett, former Southeast Asia correspondent for the Economist and author of Blood, Dreams and Gold: The Changing Face of Burma, weaves a vivid narrative of Myanmar’s colonial past and its legacy for the nation today. As he brings to life the tumultuous history of Southeast Asia’s newest democracy, Cockett highlights the role of the “plural society,” a mercantilist jumble of ethnicities brought together under British rule to exploit local resources. Read more »

North Korea: Ten Years After the First Nuclear Test

by Scott A. Snyder
A rally celebrating the success of a recent nuclear test is held in Kim Il Sung square in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 13, 2016. (KCNA/via Reuters) A rally celebrating the success of a recent nuclear test is held in Kim Il Sung square in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 13, 2016. (KCNA/via Reuters)

A decade has passed since North Korea first tested a nuclear weapon, on October 9, 2006. It conducted its fifth nuclear test last September, and there are rumors that a sixth will come within weeks or months. The United States has tried to both negotiate with and sanction North Korea while strengthening deterrence with South Korea and conducting shows of force to underscore the U.S. commitment to South Korean defense, but these measures have not halted, much less reversed, North Korea’s nuclear program. Read more »

Japan-South Korea Relations in 2016: A Return to the Old Normal

by Scott A. Snyder
South Korean Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho shakes hands with his Japanese counterpart Taro Aso (R) during the 7th Korea-Japan Finance Dialogue at the Government Complex in Seoul, South Korea August 27, 2016. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji) South Korean Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho shakes hands with his Japanese counterpart Taro Aso (R) during the 7th Korea-Japan Finance Dialogue at the Government Complex in Seoul, South Korea August 27, 2016. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

This post was coauthored with Brad Glosserman, executive director at Pacific Forum CSIS.

The first nine months of 2016 have been very good for Japan-South Korea relations. In addition to the conclusion of the comfort women agreement at the end of December 2015, the two countries have reached several other bilateral economic and security agreements. This progress and the routinization of Cabinet-level exchanges since last year make clear that their relationship has bottomed out and that pragmatic considerations are prevailing over ideological or political concerns. Credit for that progress goes to constituencies in each country committed to rebuilding the bilateral relationship. Trends in the geopolitical environment have also underscored the advantages of cooperation—and the very real costs of a failure to do so. Read more »

Podcast: The Life and Death of John Birch

by Elizabeth C. Economy
John-Birch-A-Life

When most Americans hear the name John Birch, they immediately think of the John Birch Society: an anticommunist, right-wing advocacy group that flourished in the 1950s and 60s. But who was John Birch, and what did the society have to do with him? On this week’s Asia Unbound podcast I speak with Terry Lautz, visiting professor at Syracuse University, about his new book, John Birch: A Life. Read more »

U.S. Assessments of North Korean Missile Capabilities Since 2011

by Scott A. Snyder
Missiles are taken on trucks past a stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during the parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, in Pyongyang October 10, 2015. Isolated North Korea marked the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers' Party on Saturday with a massive military parade overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, who said his country was ready to fight any war waged by the United States. (Courtesy REUTERS/James Pearson) Missiles are taken on trucks past a stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during the parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, in Pyongyang October 10, 2015. Isolated North Korea marked the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers' Party on Saturday with a massive military parade overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, who said his country was ready to fight any war waged by the United States. (Courtesy REUTERS/James Pearson)

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) announced that it successfully launched the Kwangmyongsong-4 satellite at 9:30 am on February 7, 2016. But the United States regards DPRK satellite launches as thinly-veiled efforts to advance its long-range ballistic missile capabilities. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the latest launch as “a flagrant violation of UN Security Council Resolutions related to the DPRK use of ballistic missile technology.” This compilation of statements by U.S. government officials over the past five years shows U.S. assessments regarding North Korea’s ballistic missile capabilities. Read more »

The Japan-Korea Comfort Women Deal: Proper Implementation Is What Matters

by Scott A. Snyder
A statue of a girl that represents the sexual victims by the Japanese military is seen during a weekly anti-Japan rally in front of Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea, December 30, 2015. (Courtesy REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji) A statue of a girl that represents the sexual victims by the Japanese military is seen during a weekly anti-Japan rally in front of Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea, December 30, 2015. (Courtesy REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji)

This post was coauthored with Brad Glosserman, executive director at Pacific Forum CSIS.

The cycle of negativity surrounding Japan-South Korea relations since the Abe-Park era began in early 2013 has at times eclipsed North Korea as a source of angst among observers of Northeast Asia. Even the modest improvements that accompanied commemorations of the fiftieth anniversary of diplomatic normalization in June 2015 were tinged by frustration over the two governments’ failure to move forward on the comfort woman issue. The main problem involved the acknowledgement of Japanese responsibility for the coercion of girls and women to provide sexual services to the military in imperial Japan, and this disagreement spilled over into other issues in the two countries’ relationship. Read more »

Domestic Political Obstacles and the U.S. Role in Improving Japan-Korea Relations

by Scott A. Snyder
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye listen during the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) dialogue at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila, Philippines November 18, 2015. (Courtesy REUTERS/Wally Santana/Pool) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye listen during the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) dialogue at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila, Philippines November 18, 2015. (Courtesy REUTERS/Wally Santana/Pool)

Despite the resumption of high-level Japan-South Korea ties with the holding of a “cold summit” in Seoul last month between South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, prospects for a breakthrough in Japan-South Korea relations remain distant on the fiftieth anniversary of diplomatic normalization between Seoul and Tokyo. If anything, the gap between Park and Abe on how to address the issue of comfort women has grown deeper, despite a realization on the part of both governments that the issue must be managed as one part of a broader relationship rather than be allowed to block all forms of cooperation between the two sides. Read more »