U.S. national security adviser John Bolton Photo: REUTERS
politics

Bolton heading to Japan, South Korea amid trade dispute

18 Comments

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton departed on Saturday for a trip to Japan and South Korea as the two countries are in the middle of a trade dispute.

A White House National Security Council spokesman said on Twitter that Bolton, who will arrive in Japan later Sunday, planned to “continue conversations with critical allies and friends.”

President Donald Trump on Friday offered his help to ease tensions in the political and economic dispute between the United States’ two biggest allies in Asia, which threatens global supplies of memory chips and smartphones.

Lingering tensions, particularly over the issue of compensation for South Koreans forced to work for Japanese occupiers during World War Two, worsened this month when Japan restricted exports of high-tech materials to South Korea.

Japan has denied that the dispute over compensation is behind the export curbs, even though one of its ministers cited broken trust with Seoul over the labor dispute in announcing the restrictions.

The export curbs could hurt global technology companies.

Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday that South Korean President Moon Jae-in had asked him if he could get involved.

A spokeswoman for Moon confirmed Moon had asked Trump for help at their summit in Seoul on June 30.

During his trip, Bolton is also likely to seek support for a U.S. initiative to heighten surveillance of vital Middle East shipping lanes, which has been greeted warily by allies reluctant to raise tensions with Iran, which Washington blames for attacks on tankers.

Japanese media has said the issue could be on the agenda when Bolton visits Japan, where any military commitment abroad would risk inflaming a divide in public opinion in a country whose armed forces have not fought overseas since World War Two.

A South Korean official said last week Washington had yet to make any official request to Seoul on the issue.

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Joseph Dunford, said this month Washington hoped to enlist allies in a military coalition to safeguard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen, where Washington blames Iran and Iran-aligned fighters for attacks.

But with allies reluctant to commit new weaponry or fighting forces, a senior Pentagon official told Reuters the aim was not to set up a military coalition but to shine a “flashlight” in the region to deter attacks on commercial shipping.

Kathryn Wheelbarger, who briefed NATO allies in the past week on the U.S. proposal, said it was less operational and more geared toward increasing surveillance capabilities.

Japan is the world’s fourth-biggest oil buyer and 86% of its oil supplies last year passed through the Strait of Hormuz, a vital shipping route linking Middle East oil producers to markets in Asia, Europe, North America and beyond.

Japan’s position is complicated by the fact that it has maintained friendly ties with Iran which it would be reluctant to damage. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made an unsuccessful bid to ease tensions in the region when he met Iranian leaders in Tehran last month.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

18 Comments
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And here comes the big stick wielder.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I thought Trump had banished him to Mongolia? I hope he does not do too much damage.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

He'll sweep it all under the rug...with his mustache.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Bolton may say to Abe all high tech materials got to be banned to S Korea. Such some materials may be going to N Korea by ship to ship transportation. Bolton may understand this is a national security and a danger for other nations.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

A visit from the warmonger to give Abe his orders from Washington.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Bolton. Do not come. We do not want to shake hands with them. Their nature breaks out  again soon. We want  a complete divorce.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Talk about exactly the WRONG person to send to solve any sort of dispute.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

During his trip, Bolton is also likely to seek support for a U.S. initiative to heighten surveillance of vital Middle East shipping lanes, which has been greeted warily by allies reluctant to raise tensions with Iran, which Washington blames for attacks on tankers.

That is the real reason. The hawks want to form a coalition so they don't appear to be alone when the bombing starts.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Oh crazy! It seems to me that this Japan-South Korea thing has no end. I wish each country could worry about themselves instead of talking bad about other country or causing trouble with other nation.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Get ready to hear some heads slammed together...

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

No person more perfect to stoke the fires of war. He must be miffed Trump loves Kim, though.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

S. Korea wants 3rd party country to intervene on disputes Korea cares about, they want US, UN, WTO and their mother to intervene and pressure Japan to give them special previlage base on bad behavior.

On issues which Japan cares about and Japanese companies would be affected, S Korea wants no one else to intervene, no 3rd country, only 1 on 1 diplomacy which have failed for decades. S. Korean hypocracry of the highest.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Dodged the draft in the Vietnam era by enlisting in the National Guard. Supports war with just about everybody. Hates the UN and other international organizations. Yeah, he'll be great... Maybe he'll give weapons to both sides and have them work it out.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Is John Bolton the right guy to send to mediate any dispute let alone a trade dispute.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Is John Bolton the right guy to send to mediate any dispute let alone a trade dispute.

That's a rhetorical question, right?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@AlexBecuJuly 21  08:50 pm JST

On issues which Japan cares about and Japanese companies would be affected, S Korea wants no one else to intervene, no 3rd country, only 1 on 1 diplomacy which have failed for decades. S. Korean hypocracry of the highest.

S. Korea is waiting for Japan to bring the issue to the ICJ, as Kono taro has threatened it. S. Korea will welcome it. But I predict that Japan will never bring the issue to the ICJ. You may have no clue why Japan can not. Let's see whether my prediction is correct or wrong.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday that South Korean President Moon Jae-in had asked him if he could get involved. A spokeswoman for Moon confirmed Moon had asked Trump for help at their summit in Seoul on June 30.

Interesting to see that common-sense is not being utilized by Korea, as I didn't read anything that Japan wants any of Trump's superb negotiation-skills brought to this fore. Injecting either Bolton or Trump into this s-storm will only create a total regional Charlie Foxtrot, as each will use the same tactics to achieve totally different endgames.

Bolton could care less about each nations rational or cause for this debacle, all he wants to do is somehow allow the situation devolve so much to the point where the US Military has to be the de-facto policing force to manage the turmoil between the countries to prevent a potential conflict. Thereby creating a situation where there has to be an enduring military presence in each nations lands beyond what the civilian population is comfortable with. Trump like Bolton doesn't care what started this mess; however, he's both vain and looking for a way he can personal profit financially from it and/or somehow easily earn a Nobel Prize for Peace.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Bolton is a hawk. Maybe he will recommend that the issue be solved by Japan and S Korea going to war.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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