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South Korean students march in a rally against Japan in Seoul, South Korea South Korean middle school students march in a rally against Japan in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 28, 2019 (AP photo by Ahn Youg-joon).

Is the U.S.-Led Security Architecture in East Asia Falling Apart?

Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019

Over the past half century, the United States and its two key allies in Northeast Asia, South Korea and Japan, have established a limited yet effective framework for trilateral defense cooperation. That system has largely remained intact despite a history of bad blood between Seoul and Tokyo, specifically over Japan’s brutal occupation of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 until 1945. But regional observers are now increasingly worried that this edifice is beginning to crumble.

The latest sign of trouble was South Korea’s decision last month to scrap a 2016 intelligence-sharing pact with Japan. The General Security of Military Information Agreement, brokered by the U.S. under President Barack Obama, created the foundation for more effective and integrated security cooperation between Tokyo and Seoul at a time when North Korea was ramping up development of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile capabilities. Officials in Washington continue to view the deal as a valuable contribution to their efforts to create a bulwark against North Korean provocations. ...

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