In the Dispute Between Japan and South Korea, Echoes of Trump’s Trade Policy

South Korean students burn a banner of a Japanese rising sun flag and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a rally denouncing the Japanese government’s trade restrictions, Seoul, July 29, 2019 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).
South Korean students burn a banner of a Japanese rising sun flag and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a rally denouncing the Japanese government’s trade restrictions, Seoul, July 29, 2019 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

Japan and South Korea are in the midst of a nasty diplomatic dispute, and Japan is using trade restrictions as a weapon to try and resolve it. Beyond the potential threats to American and regional geopolitical interests if the two countries remain at loggerheads, the nature of the spat is also disturbing. Japan’s use of trade restrictions to force South Korea to back down, while publicly justifying them as necessary for national security reasons, echoes U.S. President Donald Trump’s cavalier approach to trade rules and alliance relations. If the dispute is not resolved quickly, it could complicate efforts to deal […]

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