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Aug 15, 2023, 7:07am EDT
politics

What to know ahead of Biden’s big Camp David meeting with Japan and South Korea

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images
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The News

President Joe Biden will try to bolster Asian allies against China when he welcomes the leaders of South Korea and Japan to Camp David for the countries’ first-ever three-way summit.

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Insights

  • The meeting is expected to yield agreements on defense and economic issues. Specifically, according to the Wall Street Journal, the leaders will lay plans for yearly joint military exercises, a new hotline, deeper cooperation on supply chains, and a pledge to hold the summit annually.
  • Still, there are “limits to how close” Japan and South Korea can get due to their residual bad blood and mistrust, as well as restrictions in Japan’s constitution on new alliances, as The Economist writes. Theacrimony dates back to Japan’s occupation of the Korean peninsula between 1910 and 1945. When South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol visited Japan in March to meet with his counterpart in Tokyo, Fumio Kishida, it was the first such visit in more than a decade.
  • Shihoko Goto, who directs the Wilson Center’s Asia Program, writes that the summit will accomplish its main objective — showing that a “constructive” three way conversation is possible — just by happening. But the real test, she says, is whether improved relations “can be institutionalized” to “withstand political change.” In other words, can Japan and Korea build an alliance that survives their next elections?
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