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Korea Economic Institute of America Presents:

Improving U.S.-East Asian Relations in a Year of Anniversaries

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Event Date

April 21st 12:00pm - 12:00am EST

Event Description

Mr. Weston Konishi started the program with a background of the U.S. rebalance to Asia. Since the rebalance was initiated in October of 2011 there have been three main critiques. First, the rebalance was too military centric, shoring up strategic defense systems instead of focusing on the economy and politics though this is changing slightly with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Second, budgetary restraints are viewed through the government sequestration and budget cuts and finally there has been a number of distractions, or “crisis of the White House,” taking away attention from the rebalance. Mr. Konishi mentioned a fourth critique, that historical issues continue to complicate matters especially for the South Korea-Japan strategic relationship and Japan-China relations.

Ms. Emma Chanlett-Avery focused her remarks on Prime Minister Abe’s upcoming address to the joint session of congress. She mentioned that this is the first time a Japanese Prime Minister has spoken to a joint session. Ms. Chanlett-Avery stated Prime Minister Abe is expected to discuss the increased defense budget, mutual defense agreement, the TPP, and strengthening U.S.-Japan relations.

Following Ms. Chanlett-Avery, Dr. Michael Auslin stated that it could possibly be too late to use 2015, a year of anniversaries, to improve relations. Dr. Auslin mentioned that new initiatives usually start being discussed a few years in advance and that a committee of fifteen was only just put together by Japan to start working on Prime Minister Abe’s August 15 remarks. Dr. Auslin also took this time to explain Japan’s outlook on neighborly relations. From Japan’s view, relations will be improved by focusing on the future, instead of revisiting historical issues.

Mr. Mark Tokola and Mr. Bill Reinsch focused on Korea and China during their remarks of Improving U.S.-East Asian relations. Mr. Tokola remarked on the significance of 2015 as a year of anniversaries The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II is significant because it marks the pass of two generations and will be the last time those who were personally affected will be alive. The anniversary also marks a time when for the liberation of South Korea and Taiwan from years of occupation. Mr. Reinsch ended the program stating that new alliances between the U.S. and East Asia will be economical and not political or military.

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