A group of US lawmakers are in Tokyo today, where they will meet with their Japanese counterparts. The trip comes
A group of US lawmakers are in Tokyo today, where they will meet with their Japanese counterparts.
The trip comes amid a spat between Japan and South Korea—two key US allies—that threatens to boilover into a trade war. Japan has imposed export restrictions on three chemical materials used in smartphone displays and semiconductors, hurting South Korea’s giant technology firms, including Samsung.
For Washington, the risks of Tokyo and Seoul’s dispute are twofold. Economically, the global supply chain of high-tech manufacturers will be adversely affected. Firms like Samsung need semiconductors to produce memory chips, which are then sold to companies like Apple.
From a political perspective, Washington will be concerned for its Indo-Pacific strategy. Washington has increasingly relied on its allies working together to contain and deter Chinese, Russian and North Korean aggression. Instead, relations between Seoul and Tokyo have soured significantly in recent months.
While historical grievances mean South Korea and Japan are unlikely to ever be close allies, previous US administrations have proven adept at smoothing relations between the two for the sake of mutual security interests. While US lawmakers will look to convince their Japanese counterparts to soften their position on South Korea today, President Trump may intervene if relations continue on a downward trajectory.
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