The Future of Trilateralism under the Biden-Yoon-Kishida Administrations
On July 22, 2022, the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) held a briefing for Congressional staff on the future of trilateral cooperation among the United States (U.S.), Japan, and the Republic of Korea (ROK).
Trilateral cooperation among the United States and its two staunchest allies in East Asia—South Korea and Japan—has been an elusive policy goal over the better part of the past century. The bilateral relationship between Seoul and Tokyo has been rooted in mistrust and bitterness from past transgressions, and repeated efforts at reconciliation have failed. This has forestalled not only trilateral cooperation critical to achieving peace and stability in Northeast Asia, but also a forward-looking global agenda in pursuit of shared interests. As both countries face precarious global security and economic outlooks under new political leadership, it has never been clearer that South Korea and Japan share core interests with the United States and each other that are based on common values. NBR held this briefing to inform Congressional staff about the relationship’s past challenges and explore how the U.S. Congress can help successfully deepen trilateral cooperation in the future.
Experts discussed the history and politics of the bilateral relationship between Seoul and Tokyo; the need for deeper trilateral security cooperation throughout the region, including on North Korea, Taiwan, and maritime areas; opportunities to step up non-traditional security cooperation, including economic security and supply chain resilience); and opportunities for the U.S. Congress to strengthen trilateral ties and push forward a practical trilateral agenda under the leadership of President Biden, Prime Minister Kishida, and President Yoon.
Heino Klinck, Senior Advisor, NBR and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia
Clint Work, Nonresident Fellow, the Stimson Center’s 38 North Program
Josh Nezam, Director of Congressional Affairs, The National Bureau of Asian Research