[EDITORIALS]A New Cold War May Loom

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[EDITORIALS]A New Cold War May Loom

Thursday, four days before the Bush administration marked its 100th day in office, Junichiro Koizumi was sworn in as the ninth prime minister of Japan in 10 years. Amid concerns that Japan is likely to lean to the right with the election of Mr. Koizumi, who has already made provocative remarks like the need to amend the constitution to allow Japan a true military establishment, President George W. Bush signaled that the United States might intervene militarily if China attacked Taiwan. Such unprecedented remarks clearly deviate from the "strategic ambiguity" that the United States has shown publicly since it adopted the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979. The Republican administration has put priority on relations with Japan, and now Mr. Koizumi is stressing the importance of U.S.-Japan relations. The conservative, hard-line policy of the Bush administration and Japan's right wing tendencies are both oppressing other East Asian countries.

With the Bush administration in power, Japan's tendency to move to the right has led to a deterioration of relations between the United States and China and between China and Japan. The United States decided to sell to Taiwan weapons that have been sensitive to China, even before settling with China the thorny issue of the return of a spy plane. Japan also issued visas to former President Lee Teng-hui of Taiwan, ignoring protests from China. Japan is also not hesitant to revive militaristic nationalism, as in its recent approval of a distorted history textbook and visits to the Yasukuni shrine by politicians.

A cold front has formed on the Korean Peninsula with the rise of conservatism in both the United States and Japan. South Korea's sunshine policy toward North Korea has lost momentum with the Bush administration's tougher line toward the North. The prospects for four-way talks and for three-way cooperation between South Korea, the United States and Japan also look unclear. What will the Korean government choose to do if peace on the Korean Peninsula through reconciliation and cooperation with North Korea is overshadowed by dark clouds in its alliance with the United States and Japan? What is our position if confrontation arises between the United States and Japan with China and Russia? Has the government any measures against such a possibility? The notorious Taft-Katsura agreement of 1905 is not so remote in history. Seoul must coolly assess the situation.
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