The East Asia Institute (President Yul Sohn) held the 9th online seminar of the COVID-19 and the New World Order series, titled “What`s Next For the U.S.-Japan-South Korea Partnership? Security and Economic Cooperation in a New Era,” co-hosted with Stanford University’s Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. The ROK-U.S. and U.S.-Japan joint statements have increased expectations for a possible expansion of security and economic cooperation among South Korea, the U.S., and Japan. However, heightened U.S.-China strategic competition, as well as persistent challenges in the region such as historical tensions and the North Korea threat, have complicated the strategic calculus of South Korea and Japan. Under these circumstances, South Korea, the U.S., and Japan must define their economic and security interests and seek ways to maintain friendly relations among the three countries. This seminar discussed security and economic cooperation among Korea, the United States, and Japan in the era of strategic competition between the U.S. and China.


Time & Date: November 19 (Fri) 09:00-11:00 (KST)

Panelists: Joonwoo Park (Former Chairman of the Sejong Institute), Tomiko Ichikawa (Director General, The Japan Institute for International Affairs), Vincent Brooks (Former USFK Commander), Young Ja Bae (Professor, Konkuk University), Kimura Fukunari (Professor, Keio University), Andrew Grotto (Director of the Program on Geopolitics, Technology, and Governance, Stanford University)

Moderators: Young-sun Ha (Chairman, EAI; Professor Emeritus, Seoul National University), Thomas Fingar (Shorenstein APARC Fellow, Stanford University

Opening remarks: Yul Sohn (President, EAI; Professor, Yonsei University), Gi-wook Shin (Director, Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University)



Beyond Diverging Interests:

Building a Practical Framework for

Trilateral Security and Economic Cooperation


I. Session 1: U.S. –ROK-Japan Trilateral Security Cooperation


ROK-Japan relations and the Future of the Trilateral Cooperation

  • The U.S. is determined to strengthen cooperation with South Korea and Japan to promote a rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific. Similarly, Japan has also been putting greater emphasis on the Free and Open Indo-Pacific framework. To realize this goal, it is crucial that South Korea and Japan maintain harmonious relations.

  • Amb. Joon-woo Park, Former Chairman of the Sejong Institute, points out that improving ROK-Japan relations might be difficult under the Moon administration as Japan’s new Prime Minister Kishida has inherited Abe’s line of foreign policy – Japan appears indifferent to gestures made by President Moon. It is up to future leaders to improve relations.

  • According to Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, Former USFK Commander, the Alliance system capitalizes upon common interests such as economic cooperation and mutual defense. He claims that opportunities on the horizon for the new administrations in the U.S., Japan, and the ROK will include an opportunity to build upon the existing Alliance system and to strengthen it by ensuring the democracies of the Indo-Pacific operate in harmony.

  • Tomiko Ichikawa, Director-General of the Japan Institute for International Affairs, states that the allies should cooperate beyond the realm of the military alliance. To illustrate, the Quad is not just a military alliance, but in fact has many small minilateral groups for different purposes such as provisions for vaccines and infrastructure systems. To increase engagement among countries in the Indo-Pacific, such ad hoc type of grouping of “friends” may become more important in this region.

  • On the issue of U.S. extended deterrence, Gen. Brooks emphasized that extended deterrence requires capability, but more importantly operates under the premise of trust. If trust on the U.S. erodes, South Korea and Japan’s desire to reach equilibrium in military arsenal relative to North Korea’s possessions will increase. He emphasized that U.S. capability of extended deterrence is “always there” and reaching higher levels of trust requires strong diplomatic work and confidence building on multiple levels.


The Rise of the China Threat

  • The rise of China, identified by its state-controlled capitalism and expansionist economy, has brought a new challenge to free-market democracies. To protect economic and security interests, the Biden administration has put efforts in strengthening cooperation with its allies. The U.S., in its efforts to counter authoritarian China, will host the “Summit for Democracy” in December.

  • According to Amb. Park, Japan has strengthened military exercises with the U.S. and its allies. Mutual surveillance activities, which were initially designed to target illegal transshipping of North Korean ships, were actually conducted to check China’s increasing military activities in the East and the South China Sea.

  • Gen. Brooks also emphasized that the U.S.-led alliance should not be viewed as a U.S. construct, but as a modern construct that connects several of the world’s most robust economies, liberal democracies, and militarily-capable nations.


Approaching the DPRK Variable and Maintaining Peace on the Korean Peninsula

  • Despite economic difficulties arising from tightened economic sanctions, the COVID-19 pandemic, and natural disasters, the DPRK has shown continuous determination towards building nuclear arsenal.

  • While the end of the 6-Party Talks can be interpreted as the abandonment of the U.S.-DPRK framework, Ms. Ichikawa states that this was merely an interruption; top-level diplomacy between the U.S. and the DPRK continued even during the Trump administration. Such high-level talks with the DPRK should be maintained.

  • Given that the Biden administration has already reached out to the DPRK, Ms. Ichikawa claims that is now up to the DPRK to decide whether or not to engage in negotiation. However, it is difficult to claim that the DPRK is one of Biden’s top foreign policy priorities.

  • Regarding President Moon’s End of War Declaration, Gen. Vincent K. Brooks points out that there are risks associated with the declaration, but also adds that the maintenance of the status quo (armistice) will only serve as a temporary solution. When discussing the End of War Declaration, Korea should be wary of politically charged policies and refrain from associating the declaration with the reduction of USFK or UNC forces on the Korean Peninsula. Gen. Brooks emphasizes that policies “cannot be done for populist reasons rather than pragmatic reasons.”


II. Session 2: U.S.-ROK-Japan Economic Cooperation


U.S.-China Technology Rivalry

  • The U.S.-China competition and geopolitical tension in the Asia Pacific has increasingly destabilized East Asia’s business environment. Andrew Grotto, Director of the Program on Geopolitics, Technology and Governance at the Stanford Cyber Policy Center, emphasized that the U.S.-China rivalry should not be simplified as great power competition. Instead, it should be seen as a competition of two systems: liberal rules-based international order and state-led capitalism with authoritarian characteristics.

  • However, “decoupling” in fact, has only been partially implemented. According to Professor Fukunari, decoupling has only affected industries in sensitive technologies, rare earth metals, and in some medical/essential goods.

  • Mr. Grotto emphasizes that decoupling and choosing sides is not a viable solution amid the U.S.-China conflict. He claims that decoupling is not only fantastical because of the complex and intertwined nature of the global supply chain, but also counterproductive as the U.S. and its allies benefit from the ecosystem of comparative advantages.

  • The Chinese market is important for both Japan and Korea. In the case of South Korea, the U.S. is one of Korea’s biggest semiconductor export markets, while China is accounts for more than half of Korea’s semiconductor exports. Young Ja Bae, Professor at Konkuk University, states that allies should seek the optimal path for cooperation; at the same time, the U.S. should not put too much pressure on the allies’ relations with China given the current situation.


Pursuing Trilateral and Regional Cooperation

  • Professor Bae explains that a report by the Semiconductor Industry Association reads that in the case of the U.S., self-sufficiency will increase production costs by 35-60%. In this light, she points out that it is neither desirable nor possible for the U.S. and other countries to pursue self-sufficiency in the global semiconductor value chains.

  • The U.S, Japan, and Taiwan have engaged in dynamic cooperation in securing the supply chain. The U.S. requested TSMC and Samsung to building semiconductor manufacturing facilities within the U.S.; Japan has encouraged the construction of TSMC manufacturing facilities in Japan. Professor Bae states that South Korea is lagging behind amid the emergence of a new coalition in the semiconductor sector.


Moving Beyond Severed ROK-Japan Relations

  • The extension of diplomatic friction between Korea and Japan onto semiconductor sector in 2019 weakened cooperation between Korean and Japanese semiconductor firms. While South Korea lacks strong material and equipment companies, Japan lacks strong Japanese semiconductor companies as of now. It is, therefore, in the best interest of the two countries to cooperate. However, both governments currently do not have policies on building the foundation for cooperation, despite economic security being one of their top priorities.

  • Economic security is one of the top policy agendas of the Kishida Cabinet, as can be seen in the establishment of the Ministry of Economy and Security. While the Japanese government plans to enact a new economic security law, strengthening regulations on technology leakage to China, Japan's economic security strategy does not mention cooperation with Korea so far. Professor Bae states that South Korea and Japan should try to find out a way to step up cooperation in the technology sector so that they could tide over the waves of the US-China technology rivalry. 



Park Joon-woo_ is a former Chairman of The Sejong Institute and former Senior Secretary to the President for Political Affairs, and was a career diplomat who served 33 years at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He served as Ambassador to the European Union and to Singapore. His overseas assignments include Washington, D.C., Tokyo, Beijing and Helsinki. After retiring in July 2011, he was appointed as Koret Fellow of the Walter Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University, USA, teaching a graduate class on “Korean Foreign Policy in Transition: Korea’s Bilateral Relations with Her Major Neighboring Countries.” In September 2012, he was appointed as Visiting Professor at Yonsei University’s Institute for State Governance. From August 2013 to June 2014, Ambassador Park was appointed as President Park Geun-hye’s Senior Secretary for Political Affairs. Later, he served as Chairman of The Sejong Institute, Korea’s leading independent think-tank, for three years since February 2015.

Vincent K. Brooks_ is a career Army officer who recently retired from active duty as the four-star general in command of all U.S. Forces in Korea, where he concurrently commanded United Nations Command – continuously serving since 1950 and initially commanded by General of the Army Douglas MacArthur; and the Republic of Korea – U.S. Combined Forces Command comprising over 625,000 Koreans and Americans under arms. His areas of expertise are national security, policy, strategy, international relations, military operations, combating terrorism and countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, diversity and inclusion, leadership in complex organizations, crisis leadership, and building cohesive trust-based teams. He is a combat veteran and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Tomiko Ichikawa_ is the Director General at the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA). She assumed the current position in July 2020. She joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1985. Her assignments in Japan include Directorship at West Europe Division, Economic Integration Division (EU), Non-proliferation, Science and Nuclear Energy Division as well as Economic Policy Division. Overseas postings include Embassy of Japan in the UK and Permanent Mission of Japan to the International Organizations in Vienna. She also assumed positions in international organizations as Political Affairs Officer at UNPROFOR (UN PKO in the Former Yugoslavia) and Special Assistant to the Director General, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Ms. Ichikawa participated in the Six Party Talks (December 2006-December 2008), and continued to follow the DPRK nuclear issue at Permanent Mission in Vienna (2011-2014) and the IAEA (2014-2020). She obtained a Bachelor's in Law from the University of Tokyo and her MA in International relations and contemporary war from King’s College London, UK.

Young Ja Bae_ is a Professor of the Department of Political Science and Diplomacy at Konkuk University. Dr. Bae received her PhD in political science at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the United States and serves on the policy advisory committee to the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and vice chairman of the Korean Association of International Studies. She was a visiting scholar at National Taiwan University under Taiwan Fellowship. Her main research interests include international politics and S&T, science diplomacy, and international political economy. Her major papers include "Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment and National Security," "US-China competition and Science and Technology Innovation" and "S&T Diplomacy as Public Diplomacy: Theoretical Understanding".

Andrew J. Grotto_ is a William J. Perry International Security Fellow at the Cyber Policy Center and a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, both at Stanford University. Grotto’s research interests center on the national security and international economic dimensions of America’s global leadership in information technology innovation, and its growing reliance on this innovation for its economic and social life. Before coming to Stanford, Grotto was the Senior Director for Cybersecurity Policy at the White House in both the Obama and Trump Administrations. Previously, Grotto served as Senior Advisor for Technology Policy to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. He also has extensive experience on Capitol Hill, serving as a member of the professional staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Grotto received his JD from the University of California at Berkeley, his MPA from Harvard University, and his BA from the University of Kentucky.

Fukunari Kimura_ is a Professor in Economics at Keio University and Chief Economist at the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA). He received his Bachelor of Laws from the Faculty of Law, University of Tokyo in 1982. He then received Master of Science and PhD titles from the Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1990 and 1991, respectively. He previously worked for the Department of Economics, State University of New York at Albany as Assistant Professor in 1991-1994.In particular, he has recently been active in writing academic/semi-academic books and articles on international production networks and economic integration in East Asia.

Young-Sun Ha_ is Chairman of the board of trustees at the East Asia Institute. He is also a professor emeritus of the department of political science and international relations at Seoul National University. Dr. Ha serves as a member of senior advisory group for the inter-Korean summit talks preparation committee(2018-). He also served as a member of the Presidential National Security Advisory Group(2008-2016), the Co-chairman of Korea-Japan Joint Research Project for New Era(2009-2013), the Director of the Center for International Studies and American Studies Institute at Seoul National University, the President of the Korea Peace Studies Association, and a research fellow at the Center for International Studies at Princeton University, and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Stockholm. He received his B.A. and M.A. from Seoul National University, and holds a Ph.D. in international politics from the University of Washington.

Thomas Fingar_ is a Shorenstein APARC Fellow in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. He was the inaugural Oksenberg-Rohlen Distinguished Fellow from 2010 through 2015 and the Payne Distinguished Lecturer at Stanford in 2009. From 2005 through 2008, he served as the first deputy director of national intelligence for analysis and, concurrently, as chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Fingar served previously as assistant secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (2000-01 and 2004-05), principal deputy assistant secretary (2001-03), deputy assistant secretary for analysis (1994-2000), director of the Office of Analysis for East Asia and the Pacific (1989-94), and chief of the China Division (1986-89). Between 1975 and 1986 he held a number of positions at Stanford University, including senior research associate in the Center for International Security and Arms Control. Fingar is a graduate of Cornell University (A.B. in Government and History, 1968), and Stanford University (M.A., 1969 and Ph.D., 1977 both in political science).



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