Mintaro Oba

West Wing Writers
Photo of Mintaro Oba

Mintaro Oba is a former U.S. diplomat and expert commentator on U.S. foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific region.  He publishes and speaks on Asia policy issues and has been quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, BBC, and other major media outlets.  His portfolio at the State Department included South Korea’s diplomatic relations with Japan, China and North Korea.  He received his MA and BA in International Affairs from American University’s School of International Service.

Articles by Mintaro Oba
Unfortunate Circumstances and Escalating Tensions

Fall 2018 represented a turning point in Japan-South Korea ties as an uneasy truce between the two countries gave way to escalating tensions. South Korea’s Supreme Court ruled that two Japanese companies must compensate 10 South Koreans forced into labor during Japan’s occupation of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945. South Korea’s decision to dissolve the foundation built to implement the 2015 “comfort women” agreement between Seoul and Tokyo, though not unexpected, also added to the general atmosphere of growing tension. As 2018 came to a close, tensions flared as Japan alleged a South Korean Navy destroyer locked onto a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force plane with a radar used for targeting weapons – a claim Seoul vigorously denies. On the Japan-North Korea front, Prime Minister Abe’s willingness to meet Kim Jong Un characterized Tokyo’s response to the Trump-Kim summit amid increasing uncertainty concerning Japan’s role in talks on denuclearization of North Korea, but with no real change of Japan’s North Korea policy.