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Newsline: Former US ambassador says South Korea, Japan need ‘strong mediator’ to work out differences

A healthy alliance between South Korea, Japan and the United States is “crucial” to Asia’s stability, former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris said. But, he added, Seoul and Tokyo need a third-party mediator like Washington to help them work out their differences. “Since World War II, the network of U.S. alliances and partnerships has been at the core of a stable Indo-Pacific,” Harris said during a virtual panel discussion hosted by the Hudson Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C. “Relationships matter and alliances matter.” To address North Korea’s provocations and ensure stability in the region, South Korea and Japan must put aside the “bad history” between them, he said. (https://www.stripes.com/theaters/asia_pacific/2022-04-22/south-korea-japan-historical-differences-asia-stability-harry-harris-5764094.html) Historical divisions often mar relations between two of the region’s most powerful and successful democracies. For decades, the two countries have bickered over ownership of a cluster of small islands in the Sea of Japan, or East Sea. The islands, which Seoul and Tokyo call Dokdo and Takeshima, respectively, have prompted the two nations to create government websites dedicated to their claims.

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