“As this trade made them rich, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and China all became more nationalistically sensitive and aggressive about their claims no matter how materially insignificant.” - Clyde Prestowitz
….. So far at least, all the supply chain cooperation and economic talks have not seemed to deter or dampen a rising furor over the disputed islands. The situation is particularly awkward for the United States because it is committed by its security treaties with Korea and Japan to defend both countries in the event of conflict. Thus, in the case of the Dokdo/Takeshima islands, the problem for Washington would be to decide whether to defend Korea or Japan. Or perhaps it would be the U.S. Army defending Korea and its claims and the U.S. Navy defending Japan and its claims. In the case of the Senkakus, the United States has not interest of its own in them and certainly no wish to go to war with China over them. But it is in effect being driven by the mayor of Tokyo (famously the co-author along with Sony co-founder Akio Morita of the book, The Japan that Can Say NO) into a position that could easily lead to a U.S.-China face off.
The rising tensions have actually introduced a higher element of risk into the supply chains and are a factor in the consideration by some companies of relocating some manufacturing back to the United States and to other non-Asian locations.
As similar developments did in 1909, these events also raise the question of whether rather than God's diplomacy, trade is the devil's workshop. Before the relatively recent Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, and Chinese economic miracles, there was no discussion or interest in these god forsaken rocks and shoals in the western Pacific. Over the years, the United States has enabled these countries to become rich by trading with them, investing in them, and transferring technology to them. Indeed, Washington has acquiesced in an asymmetric trading relationship in which the United States played the role of buyer of last resort as these countries pursued export led growth strategies. As this trade made them rich, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and China all became more nationalistically sensitive and aggressive about their claims no matter how materially insignificant.