East Asia has witnessed the recent ascent of conservative leadership amid territorial tensions – signaling not a futuristic vision for international harmony but a return to past rivalries.
China‘s new leader Xi Jinping has already vowed to strengthen its military, creating what U.S. Admiral Michael McDevitt identifies as a “security dilemma” in Asia. While China understandably wants to its combat readiness and project its naval power outward, doing so increases the insecurity of its neighbors.
Meanwhile, South Korea recently elected conservative Park Guen-hye, the daughter of Korea’s powerful former dictator who has promised to be a strong leader in the style of Margaret Thatcher. Japan‘s December election gave a landslide victory to the Liberal Democratic Party and conservative Shinzo Abe – partly based on the expectation that the party would deliver a more muscular and less conciliatory foreign policy in response to friction with China and other neighbors over disputed territories.