South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-in could find himself stuck between a rock and hard place in the months ahead. Indeed, dealing with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un on the one hand and US President Donald Trump on the other could be the cause for a number of sleepless nights for Seoul’s new president. While the former is still announcing that he will turn the Korean Peninsula into a ‘sea of fire’ on a regular basis, the latter – at least so he announced the other day - wants ‘his’ money back.
The security dimension is a key factor in the OBOR initiative, considering that Xinjiang region is an exclusive gateway for Central Asian oil and gas imports as well as for trade corridor between China and the West.
Over the last ten years, the mantra of experts and scholars highlighted the uncertain future of Afghanistan. The situation on the ground shows an ambiguous mix of instability and tentative signs of progress. To this very day, any future scenario bears the mark of uncertainty. The dynamics of the last two years, after the massive international withdrawal due to the end of the NATO-ISAF mission, are bound to recur not just in the next months but also in the next few years.
On March 6, Pyongyang fired four missiles into the Sea of Japan and three of them landed in Japan’s ‘exclusive economic zone’ in Japanese territorial waters. The missiles travelled roughly 1.000 kilometres and landed as close as 300 kilometres from Japan’s northwest coast. For now, business as usual – at least more or less – for Japan’s defence planners and defence hawks. In 2016 alone North Korea conducted 20 missile and 2 nuclear tests and Tokyo has been within range of Pyongyang’s short and medium-range missiles for years.
Unpredictable, erratic, prone to contradiction and potentially very dangerous. Donald Trump’s policies towards China could turn out or indeed continue to be all of that. Then again, they could be none of that or something completely different and we already got a very good taste of what may lie ahead in terms of surprises of how he and (some of) his controversial advisers are planning to deal with Beijing.
Two years have passed since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) won Japan’s last general elections with a landslide. Abe, so it seems, is firmly in the saddle to lead the world’s third biggest economy. To be sure, the years ahead will be testing Abe’s leadership skills. He will be confronted with an increasingly assertive China challenging Asia’s maritime territorial boundaries in the East and South China Seas and with a new U.S. President, who on the campaign trail announced to want (much) more from Japan in terms of burden–sharing for Asian security.
The EU and Japan have big plans to intensify and institutionalize cooperation in international politics and security. A bilateral agreement, through which such increased and institutionalized cooperation is envisioned to take place is the EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA). The SPA will cover cooperation in regional and global politics and security and is envisioned to give the e.g. current EU-Japan ad-hoc on the ground non-military security cooperation an institutional framework.
Anyone who says that they know what Donald Trump will do as president is lying. Trump himself does not know what his policies or responses to particular situations will be – which is not surprising for someone who has no background on most issues a president confronts, no record of government service, no appetite for preparation, a preference for going with his gut, and the apparent absence of an ideological or moral compass.
When Japan experienced a historic power transition in August 2009, as the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party was removed from power by voters for the first time in the LDP’s fifty four years of history, and replaced by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), many observers hailed the arrival of serious inter-party competition and even a two-party political system. Nonetheless, the DPJ was itself then voted out of power in December 2012 in a crushing defeat almost as big as the LDP’s 2009 defeat.