ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronCrossEye IconFacebook IconIcon FacebookGoogle Plus IconLayer 1InstagramCreated with Sketch.Linkedin IconIcon LinkedinShapeCreated with Sketch.Icon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailMenu BurgerIcon Opinion QuotePositive ArrowIcon PrintRSS IconIcon SearchSite TitleTitle ChevronTwitter IconIcon TwitterYoutube Icon
U.S. President Donald Trump at a joint press conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Seoul on Nov. 7.   © Reuters

South Korea balks at joining US-Japanese 'Indo-Pacific' push

Seoul puts repairing ties with China first

SEOUL -- South Korea has not jumped on board with the goal of a "free and open Indo-Pacific region" advocated by the U.S. and Japan, probably leery of provoking China just as the two countries have begun mending fences.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed Monday to work closer together to promote stability and growth in a region spanning both sides of the Indian Ocean, from Asia to Africa.

Trump pitched the diplomatic strategy to President Moon Jae-in when the two met here Tuesday, but Moon did not agree to participate. The joint statement afterward noticeably attributed the view that the U.S.-South Korean alliance "remains a linchpin for security, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific" only to Trump.

South Korea's presidential Blue House holds that more discussion is needed to determine whether the Indo-Pacific concept is appropriate for the region.

Tokyo "is trying to build a diplomatic line including Japan, Australia, India and the U.S., but there's no need for us to be part of it," Moon aide Kim Hyun-chul told South Korean reporters Thursday in Jakarta.

Some in Moon's administration have expressed concern that the strategy seems aimed to contain China and its maritime ambitions. Seoul and Beijing recently agreed to improve ties frayed by South Korea's decision to host an advanced American missile defense system. Seoul apparently seeks to focus on working with the U.S. and Japan to deal with the North Korean missile and nuclear threat, while taking China's interests into consideration.

Do you live in Asia? How do you feel about Trump visiting the region?

  • Do you believe Trump can make Asia a more secure place? Tell us why.
  • Who will be the strongest political force in East Asia in 2030 and why? (U.S., China, other?)
  • How could Asia become more self-sufficient economically, or is the U.S. an indispensable partner?
  • Do you live in Asia?

Please email your answers to us at

Get unique insights on Asia, the most dynamic market in the world.

Offer ends September 30th

You have {{numberReadArticles}} FREE ARTICLE{{numberReadArticles-plural}} left this month

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Get unlimited access
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

{{sentenceStarter}} {{numberReadArticles}} free article{{numberReadArticles-plural}} this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most dynamic market in the world.

Benefit from in-depth journalism from trusted experts within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends September 30th

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media