During 2020, crucial elections occurred in South Korea, Japan and the US. In 2021 it will be important to watch how political leaders in those countries, and others in the region, address the COVID-19 fallout and the ongoing power struggles within the democracies. Despite meetings and summits, the record of the past few years on issues surrounding Korea is dismal. Particularly in Japan, South Korea and the US, domestic political considerations and differing party views of roles and interests play large and sometimes defining roles in setting policy.
As US President Joe Biden begins his presidency and South Korean President Moon Jae-in begins his last 18 months, several regional imperatives press on these governments. It has been nine years since Kim Jung Un took power in North Korea after the death of his father, Kim Jung Il, and the DPRK system appears to be resilient. Australia, one of three key middle powers in East Asia along with South Korea and Japan, is facing new challenges from China on trade, security and democratic stability. The regional reaction to China’s assertiveness will test leadership like never before.
Along with trends in diplomacy and the clash of real interests, the need for visionary, skillful and realistic leadership is an urgent topic for discussion. The role of political dynamics and political actors will be a central theme of AsiaEast in the coming months and years. Our discussions will address such themes directly and responsibly and will feature extensive discussions with experienced professionals and analysts.