Moon is sitting on his handsNoticeable developments are happening between North Korea and Russia and between China and Japan. Beijing has reportedly allowed a Japanese frigate carrying the Rising Sun Flag — a symbol of Japanese imperialism — to join the 70th anniversary of the founding of China’s Navy on Tuesday in Qingdao. Due to concerns about their fraught history, Tokyo refrained from hoisting the flag on warships whenever they entered Chinese harbors. Not anymore — thanks to China’s improved relations with Japan.
Yet Japan’s naval ships could not attend an international naval review in Jeju last October because of Seoul’s ban on carrying the flag. While Korea is stuck on past hostilities, China is trying to get over them. As long as South Korea is attached to the past, Japan will not seek a better future with it. Another alarming development is also taking place around the Korean Peninsula. China and Japan are swiftly mending their fences after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to China last year. That’s a remarkable change from the tense moments between Tokyo and Beijing over the Senkaku Islands, or Diaoyu Islands, just four years ago.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un plans to visit Russia to have his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday and Thursday to further improve their ties. Kim will likely demand that Moscow help ease United Nations sanctions, while Putin will seek help from North Korea on his Far East Development project. Following the consolidation of ties with China, Kim now wants to reinforce a strategic coalition with Russia to counter U.S. influence in the region.
South Korea is on the verge of being separated from its security alliance with the United States and Japan. Washington and Tokyo’s distrust of Seoul can be understood given the Moon Jae-in administration’s persistent calls to ease sanctions regardless of the international community’s consensus on pressuring Pyongyang. While the Korea-U.S. alliance is being broken, military cooperation between Washington and Tokyo is being strengthened, as seen in the U.S. government’s latest decision to transfer core technologies of a stealth fighter jet to Japan.
As many security experts point out, President Moon’s Korean Peninsula peace process cannot succeed with improving inter-Korean ties alone: it calls for international cooperation with the United States, China, Japan and Russia. Without their help, the government cannot create effective North Korea policies. It is not time for Moon to sit on his hands amid such alarming developments around the peninsula.
JoongAng Ilbo, April 22, Page 30