North Korea plans to test-fire a Taepodong II long-range ballistic missile sometime before the end of Dec. 22. The Japanese Diet elections and Tokyo gubernatorial election will be held Sunday. These will be followed three days later by the South Korean presidential election. Predictions are that Japan and South Korea will witness the emergence of new leadership.
Territorial disputes between Japan and China, and between Japan and South Korea, have intensified. These highlight the treacherous situation facing the Asia-Pacific region. As Japan and South Korea face domestic pressure with elections on the horizon, Taiwan has more flexibility in managing the disputes by leveraging claims of sovereignty and fishing rights.
In order to mitigate the tensions and antagonisms that might erupt into war, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has proposed an East China Sea peace initiative, with five points to resolve the territorial sovereignty issue. He urges all parties to refrain from antagonistic actions, to not abandon dialogue, to observe international law, to resolve disputes through peaceful means, and to form a mechanism for exploring and developing resources on a cooperative basis. Given upcoming events, the best way forward for eastern Asia is to embrace the initiative and join in forging a path of coexistence and mutual prosperity.
Potomac Falls, Va.