Escalating tensions: Is Northeast Asia headed toward war on the high seas?
About This Event

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Event Summary

On the day President Obama returned from Asia, AEI's Michael Auslin opened a conference on territorial disputes in Northeast Asia, signaling that perhaps Washington's pivot has yet to provide reassurance and stability.

John Yoo from AEI described why Japan's legal claim to the Dokdo-Takeshima Islands seems weaker than its claim to the Senkaku-Diaoyu Islands because of the way World War II ended. Yoo also pointed out that many of the recent militaristic actions taken by China, Japan, and South Korea are to back up legal claims to disputed islands.

Sean Callahan from Rep. Colleen Hanabusa's (D-HI) office then delved into the security implications of the disputes. He noted that although it is Washington's responsibility to not let tensions escalate into war in Asia, members of Congress are uninterested after years of engagement in the Middle East.

Eric Sayers from Rep. Randy Forbes's (R-VA) office followed by noting that Asia-focused politicians are in a tough spot: they have to not only reassure allies in Asia of US commitment but also persuade Congress that the country is heading toward a future where the balance of power will be tilted in China's favor if action is not taken.

Auslin concluded the event by noting that Congress can play a role in guiding and shaping legislation that will increase the quality of US engagement in Asia.
--Shannon Mann

Event Description

Over the past few months, escalating tensions between China and Japan have generated predictions of military conflict in the East China Sea. While US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently locked horns with his Chinese counterpart over the Senkaku Islands, the commander of US Marine Corps Forces Japan claimed that if the Chinese invaded the islands, the US Navy and Marines could recapture them.

Is an acute crisis likely? What further actions may China undertake to protect its interests? At what point might the US choose to intervene militarily in a dispute?

Join us at AEI as a panel of experts convene to discuss the future of disputed territories in the East China Sea, if these disputes can be resolved through judicial settlement, and what increased conflict would mean for US interests in the region.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted in 24 hours.

Agenda

1:45 PM
Registration

2:00 PM
Opening Remarks:
Michael Auslin, AEI

2:10 PM
Panelists:
Sean T. Callahan, Office of Representative Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI)
Eric Sayers, Office of Representative J. Randy Forbes (R-VA)
John Yoo, AEI

Moderator:
Michael Auslin, AEI

3:00 PM
Question-and-Answer Session

3:30 PM
Adjournment

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Shannon Mann at [email protected], 202.862.5911.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

Michael Auslin is a resident scholar and the director of Japan Studies at AEI, where he studies Asian regional security and political issues. Before joining AEI, he was an associate professor of history at Yale University. A prolific writer, Auslin is a biweekly columnist for The Wall Street Journal Asia and his longer writings include the book “Pacific Cosmopolitans: A Cultural History of US-Japan Relations” (Harvard University Press, 2011) and the study “Security in the Indo-Pacific Commons: Toward a Regional Strategy” (AEI Press, 2010). He was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, a Marshall Memorial Fellow by the German Marshall Fund, and a Fulbright and Japan Foundation Scholar.

Sean T. Callahan currently serves as the senior military legislative assistant in the office of Representative Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), where he focuses on defense and foreign policy. Before joining Rep. Hanabusa’s team, Callahan served as a logistics and procurement manager for Halliburton and for Kellogg, Brown & Root, working on projects in Africa and the Middle East under the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program of the US Army.

Eric Sayers
is the defense policy adviser to Representative J. Randy Forbes (R-VA), chairman of the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee. Before working on the Hill, Sayers was a resident Sasakawa Peace Foundation Fellow at the Pacific Forum Center for Strategic & International Studies, where he focused on the US-Japan alliance and Japanese naval policy. Previously, he worked as a research assistant for national security policy at the Heritage Foundation. He has published in Joint Forces Quarterly, Defense News, and The Weekly Standard, among other outlets. He was chosen in the fall 2011 edition of the Diplomatic Courier as one of the Top 99 under 33 Foreign Policy Leaders. 

John Yoo has been a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law since 1993 and a visiting scholar at AEI since 2003. He served as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of the Legal Counsel of the US Department of Justice from 2001 to 2003, where he worked on constitutional and national security matters. He also served as general counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas and Judge Laurence Silberman. He is the author of “Point of Attack: Preventative War, International Law, and Global Warfare” (Oxford University Press, 2014), “Taming Globalization: International Law, the U.S. Constitution, and the New World Order” (Oxford University Press, 2012), “Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush” (Kaplan Publishing, 2010), “War by Other Means: An Insider's Account of the War on Terror” (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2006), and “The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs after 9/11” (University of Chicago Press, 2005).

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