Japan and South Korea dig in during worst spat in ‘five decades’

Leaders have turned their backs on each other. They have traded barbs. Military and business ties are fraying, and the media is up in arms.

Relations between Japan and South Korea, the most important U.S. allies in the Asia-Pacific region, are unraveling fast. And while the leaders of both countries share the blame, the Trump administration has taken its eye off the ball, experts say. This has allowed spats to grow that could undermine U.S. efforts to sustain a coalition of Asian democracies and contain China.

Japan ruled over South Korea from the beginning of the 20th century until the end of World War II, and Seoul and Tokyo’s complicated history has always loomed large in the background.

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