In the first week of July, there has been significant political developments in East Asia. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has successfully pushed for the reinterpretation of the Article 9 of Japan's Constitution, moving the pacifist nation into an era of newly possible military participation. This has angered both South Korea and China as the reinterpretation is seen as destroying the pacifist spirit of Japan's constitution.

Meanwhile, Abe also moved to relax Japan's economic sanctions against North Korea in exchange of North Korea's cooperation on investigating Japanese kidnapping incidents after the Korean War. The lifting of sanctions shows a potential of undermining the international effort to de-nuclearize Korea.

While Japan is undergoing significant developments in both domestic and international affairs, South Korean President Park Geun-hye warmly welcomed China's President Xi Jinping. Both leaders discussed strengthening ties between both countries, including pledging to finish a free-trade agreement , and jointly announcing to oppose the development of nuclear weapons in the Korean Peninsula.

While there are still significant differences between both leaders, the visit was seen as a warm, cultural exchange. The warm gestures and the joint statement about nuclear weapons (China did not mention North Korea specifically due to political sensitivity) can be seen as a step towards progress on East Asia's stability while slowly tackling the problem of North Korea.

The developments in East Asia during the first week of July is significant diplomatically. Japan's Abe decides to increase flexibility on it's self defense force while making diplomatic gains with North Korea. On the other hand, China, North Korea's number one ally, made history with the warm cultural and diplomatic visit in South Korea that included an indirect condemnation on North Korea's nuclear weapon developments.

So what is missing? United States. The US continuous faltering of international diplomacy has consequentially lead to significant developments in East Asia without US being a major player. With regards to North Korea, this is the perfect time for the international community to pressure North Korea from abandoning nuclear weapon development as China, North Korea's primary ally, has finally publicly shown that even it had enough.

There are a lot of diplomatic developments in other parts of the world that the US is currently occupied to. However, losing focus on East Asia's development even for a moment can lead to unanticipated consequences to the US's absence of leadership in the region.


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