Northeast Asia

  • Japan Outbound, Inc.: What Policymakers, Companies, and Investors Can Learn From Japan in the Reiwa Era

    In an age in which economists and policy makers are openly advocating for advanced economies to stop worrying about budget deficits, Japan usually features as the poster child for the seemingly never-ending story of printing money to fund government spending. While some question when the music eventually stops, others tout Japan as the example par excellence of this “Modern Monetary Theory,” and a model to be followed for cash-strapped, debt-laden, and rapidly aging societies.


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  • New Missile Tests Cast Doubt on North Korea’s Commitment to Nuclear Talks

    New missile launches from North Korea could derail US President Donald J. Trump’s attempts to restart talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear program. The tests are “another sign that [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-un believes he has the upper hand over Trump and that the administration’s ‘maximum pressure’ strategy isn’t working,” according to Alexander Vershbow, an Atlantic Council distinguished fellow and former US ambassador to South Korea.

    According to South Korean officials, two short-range missiles were fired from the east coast of North Korea on July 25, landing harmlessly in the sea. Seoul has suggested that these missiles could be a “new type of missile,” design but likely are in violation of UN Security Council resolutions barring North Korea from testing ballistic missiles.  In addition to the tests, North Korea released images on July 23 of a new submarine, which could be large enough to carry nuclear-armed missiles. The July 25 missile tests are the first reported since several other short-range missiles were fired on May 4.


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  • With One Small Step, Trump Makes History in North Korea

    Trump, Kim agree to restart nuclear negotiations

    On June 30, Donald J. Trump became the first US president to set foot in North Korea. Trump made history when stepped across a low concrete marker accompanied by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and walked a few steps into the North. The two leaders agreed to have their negotiators resume an effort to reach what has so far been an elusive nuclear deal.

    “The United States, under the Trump administration, has disrupted the longstanding, but failing, US policies of past administrations by seeking to build trust from the top down,” said Barry Pavel, senior vice president, Arnold Kanter chair, and director of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security.

    “This was helpful for reducing the near-term threat, but so far it is unclear whether it will help to achieve the denuclearization that we seek,” said Pavel. “How much trust building will be required before North Korea begins the process of denuclearization? Certainly, today’s ceremony and symbolism is not unhelpful, but it is unclear how and when this path will lead to a nuclear-free North Korea.”


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  • North Korea Must Regain Washington’s Trust, South Korean Official Says

    Special adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in argues that diplomatic and security assurances—not sanctions relief—are the key to achieving North Korean denuclearization

    Following the failure of the February summit in Vietnam between US President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, “there is a huge trust gap between Washington and Pyongyang,” Chung-in Moon, special adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in for unification, foreign, and national security affairs, said at the Atlantic Council in Washington on June 19. “In order to break that trust gap,” Moon added, “North Korea should take some proactive actions.”


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  • ‘Door is Wide Open’ for Negotiations with North Korea, US Envoy Says

    With US-North Korean diplomacy stuck in a ‘holding pattern,’ Stephen Biegun says North Korean negotiators must be empowered to discuss denuclearization

    US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun said at the Atlantic Council in Washington on June 19 that “the door is wide open” for negotiations with North Korea, while admitting that US-North Korean diplomacy has been in a “holding pattern” since the summit between US President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi in February.

    “For both countries, denuclearization sits at the center of this discussion,” Biegun said, adding: “Our expectations have been made quite clear to the North Koreans, but Chairman Kim has also signaled to us during the course of [the Hanoi summit] how important this issue is to him.”


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  • Can Xi’s Visit to North Korea Facilitate US-China Trade Talks?

    Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first state visit to North Korea this week will underscore Beijing’s clout in Pyongyang and, by doing so, Xi may be looking to re-energize a US effort to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and gain leverage in stalled US-China trade negotiations.

    “President Xi recognizes that closer relations with North Korea’s leader will give China additional leverage in its ongoing [trade] dispute with the United States,” said Jamie Metzl, a nonresident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security.


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  • Holly Dagres interviewed in BBC Newsroom: Could Iran-Japan talks lead to a Trump summit?


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  • Barbara Slavin quoted in Think Progress: Japanese PM’s visit to Iran might cool tensions between Tehran and Washington


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  • Japan’s Historic Opportunity to Play Peacemaker Between the US and Iran

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will finally make a trip to Iran on June 12. Since becoming prime minister at the end of 2012, every time Abe attempted to visit Tehran, the idea was eventually withdrawn mainly due to US disapproval, according to rumors. 

    However, Prime Minister Abe has met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani seven times already, not only in New York on the sideline of the UN General Assembly every year since 2013, but also at the sixtieth annual Asia-Africa Conference in Indonesia during 2015. The Tehran visit will be the eighth meeting between Abe and Rouhani. It will be the first visit by a Japanese prime minister since 1978. (However, it will be Abe’s second visit to Iran since he accompanied his father, then Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe, in 1983.)

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  • Coherent US Strategy Seen Key to Effective Sanctions

    As Washington looks to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, support for Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and interference in the 2016 US elections, economic sanctions can be a useful tool, but they must fit into a coherent US strategy in order to be effective, Atlantic Council experts told US lawmakers on May 15.

    “Sanctions can be a useful, precise, and effective tool of US foreign policy, so long as they are treated as a tool to implement a clear policy and a thought-out strategy,” David Mortlock, a nonresident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center explained.


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