They are kissing and making up all over the place. From last month;
A report released on Wednesday from the Yonhap news agency says that leaders from Japan and South Korea are prepared to sign their cooperative military agreement since the Japanese occupation ended in 1945 after World War II. Known as the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), the pact will see the two countries sharing each other’s military intelligence about North Korea and its nuclear weapon development programs.... and now working further down the SLOC;
While the historic military agreement between Japan and South Korea has been getting all the headlines recently, along with its indefinite postponement, an agreement on defense cooperation between Japan and the Philippines has advanced recently. The military pact’s “Statement of Intent” was signed this month in Tokyo by Voltaire Gazmin, the Philippines’ Secretary of Defense, and Satoshi Morimoto, his Japanese counterpart. Other officials participating have commented that things are going well between the capitals of Tokyo and Manila.We should all take a deep breath and smile.
When my friends, who in living memory could barely be in the same room with each other, are now acting like friends - and are all in a fashion progressive minded democratic states; this is good.
All three nations have a history of US occupation; different context and experience - but such that we are all friends together; this is good.
When you look all over WESTPAC, you have those nations plus Singapore, Australia in the same boat when it comes to mutual interest without direct conflict; this is good.
Throw in to the mix the "not quite there but not hostile" majority Muslim states of Indonesia and Malaysia with flawed but trending positive representative governments - and even poor bullied but free Taiwan that no one will play reindeer games is setting a great example - you have more mutual interest. Even Communist Vietnam is trending the right direction; this is good.
Thailand, Laos, Burma (I refuse to call in Myanmar), Cambodia, and others all have their own issues to varying degrees to work out - but again, the trend are going our way; this is good.
Many think that mutual concerns about a growing China are helping them look to each other for mutual support, and I think that is in the soup - but isn't it the primary thing.
I think there is something more profound going on, and I think it is based on the Western concept of representative governments and cooperative nationalism. Independent people and distinct cultures who do not want anything from their neighbors but trade and mutual support in the case a bad actor decides to soil their slowly improving neighborhood.
The fact that they all have a link across the Pacific to the USA, and the rest of the Americas as well - just makes it a bonus.
There are many things out there to be Miss Mary Darkcloud about - but the Pacific Rim is not one of them. There are so many good indications of progress out there. A combined Japanese, South Korean, Philippine, Australian, and maybe a Vietnamese formation of warships tooling around together isn't a bad thing. If they were about to meet up to do some UNREP with a USNS ... would be just make it sweeter.
We can almost do that in RIMPAC 2012 ... maybe 2014 - it's all goodness.