Monday, February 14, 2011 | 5:30 PM EST - 5:30 PM EST

With the rise of tensions in Northeast Asia over the past few months, understanding the complex interactions among China, Japan and the two Koreas has become more important than ever, as has understanding the effect such tensions have on the United States and its interaction with these countries. The National Committee, in cooperation with the Japan Society, brought together three experts to provide insights into the current state of the regional security relationships: the Brookings Institution’s Richard Bush, the Eurasia Group’s Ian Bremmer, and Johns Hopkins University’s Kent Calder.

Video of the program in its entirety may be found on the right under "Program Video."

Dr. Bush began the program by reminding the audience of the September 2010 incident involving a Chinese fishing boat and Japanese Coast Guard vessel that occurred near the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, an area that has long caused tension in Sino-Japanese relations. He noted that fervent nationalist sentiment and the structures of government in both countries can easily turn small incidents into large political controversies. “Stuff will happen,” Dr. Bush concluded, remarking that although such incidents will inevitably occur, it is unlikely they will escalate into major crises before cooler heads prevail.

Describing the structural deficiencies present in both nations, Dr. Calder agreed with Richard Bush. He remains basically optimistic, noting that Japan, China, and South Korea have been recently strengthened their relationships through several tri-lateral meetings.

Dr. Bremmer concurred with Dr. Bush’s position that North Korea was a more serious immediate threat to regional stability than tensions between and among Japan, China, and South Korea. “One thing I’ll tell you as a political scientist is that transition and totalitarian are two T’s that don’t go well together. They don’t play nicely.” He sees the region’s security risks largely in economic and political terms.

After each panelist made introductory remarks, and then responded to each other, Jan Berris, National Committee vice president and moderator of the program, opened the floor to questions and comments from the audience.

For more information on this or future public programs, please contact the National Committee at 212-645-9677.

Politics & Foreign Relations

Recorded 2/9/10