Wave of Nationalism Sweeps Through Northeast Asia
Both Koreas soon will be governed by the progeny of Cold War strongmen. China is in the hands of the son of one of Mao Tse-tung’s revolutionary comrades. The incoming prime minister of Japan is a long-standing hawk and the grandson of one of Japan’s war cabinet leaders.
The future is looking uninspiringly like the past in Northeast Asia. And although few (other than doomsday theorists) are predicting another war, the alignment of new leaders seems likely to cause some bumps in the year ahead.
“In the short term, I take a pessimistic view. Some kind of new Cold War-type confrontation could happen,” said Han Yong-sup of the Korea National Defense University, speaking in Seoul this month at a conference on China’s transition.
Any transition is a sensitive period, as new leaders try to establish their nationalist bona fides with their own public, and Northeast Asia is going through three simultaneously.