Is East Asia headed for war?

Why are South Korea, China and Japan fighting over rocks? The articles will tell you there are resources below these rocks, but why aren't they at the negotiating table working out deals? It'll take tens of billions of dollars, manpower and time to develop these resources and they aren't going anywhere. Developing them will require partnerships. Meanwhile, in China (and I suspect Korea and Japan as well), the discussion is entirely about sovereignty, not resources. What can explain the sudden desire to fight over rocks in the Pacific? Social mood.

Shots fired - at least in print
China's state media issued a stark warning to Japan yesterday over interfering in the Diaoyus, with a Communist Party mouthpiece saying Beijing is prepared to take action to defend its sovereignty over the disputed islands.

The rhetoric came as about 30 mainland activists protested at the Japanese embassy in Beijing, demanding China declare war against Japan to claim the islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan.
China has the most to gain from war, domestically speaking. The CCP pumps out a relentless stream of anti-Japanese propaganda, whipping up a whirlwind of hate. Economically, the Japanese appear content despite their troubles, but the CCP is worried that a real slowdown could knock them from power. A limited war against Japan is the perfect policy if the economy tank, assuming they don't lose.

South Korea and Japan at Odds Again
Tensions between Japan and South Korea have escalated in recent days to a level that threatens the always fragile relations between the two key US allies in the Pacific. Much of the latest situation results from a disagreement between Seoul and Tokyo regarding the long-term dispute over territorial claims to Takeshima Island, as it is known in Japan, or if you prefer Dokdo Island, as it’s referred to in South Korea.

The “island” is little more than two desolate chunks of rock surrounded by some ninety smaller rocky outcroppings far away in an isolated little corner of the Sea of Japan. Also known as the Liancourt Rocks, this insignificant collection of largely barren clumps of stone have caused quite a stir among Pacific neighbor, not because of any intrinsic value attributed to such minute specks of land in a vast expanse of water, but because of what is believed to lie beneath the surface of the adjacent waters – rich deposits of highly-prized natural resources.
South Korea is much less likely to go to war with Japan, especially since both countries have a large U.S. military presence. That said, South Korea is showing a more expansionist mindset of late: United Korea 'Could Rank Among Top 10 Powerhouses'
If the two Koreas were to reunite next year, the nation would become one of the world's top 10 powers by the year 2050, according to a report released on Sunday by Hyundai Research Institute.

Using analysis that combines the GDPs, populations and military powers of both nations, the report speculates that the GDP of a united Korea in the year 2050 could reach US$6.56 trillion, placing it eighth in the world.

It also estimates that North Korea's wealth of natural resources, such as magnesium and gold, would be worth more than $3.9 trillion.

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