Well I couldn’t resist (ineptly) posting that photo of the reef-rock that China and the Philippines both claim, but doing so perhaps made the topic seem more humorous than it really is.
Bottom line 1: you gotta watch China on every geo-strategic front, and the “spontaneous” anti-Japanese protests the government has been coordinating across dozens of cities is a truly disturbing phenomenon.
Bottom Line 2: no, South Korea and Japan will not go to war over the Dodko islets, but despite all that economistic thinking ought to imply, relations between the two countries really are seriously deteriorating, and in danger of becoming worse yet. This latest dust-up has shown how quickly certain democratic political dynamics can wind up inflaming tensions.
It’s not just Hamilton fans like yours truly, but East Asian experts like this fellow at City Journal, who think the latest news ought to remind us that there is no guarantee that trading democracies won’t go to war. And this fellow, China-ascendancy-skeptic Guy Sorman, also indicates that in the China v. Philippines and China/Taiwan v. Japan islet disputes, it’s easily as much about face as it is about possible gas/oil resources.