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Asia Minute: Vice presidentʻs Northeast Asia trip underlines regional security issues

Japan Kamala Harris Asia tokyo 92822
Leah Millis/AP
Pool Reuters
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris hosts a roundtable discussion with Japanese business executives from companies in the semiconductor industry, at the Chief Mission Residence in Tokyo Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022. (Leah Millis/Pool Photo via AP)

Vice President Kamala Harris is back in the United States after spending most of this week in Northeast Asia.

Parts of her trip were predictable. Paying respects at the state funeral of Shinzo Abe, meeting with the current Japanese prime minister and South Korean president, as well as the prime minister of Australia.

She visited U.S. forces and talked to regional leaders about security issues — including North Korea and Taiwan.

Somewhat less predictable, though not really surprising: North Korea itself.

The country launched ballistic missiles twice while Harris was in the region — and a third time shortly after she left.

The vice president also met with business leaders in Japan, talking up a new initiative that will help subsidize semiconductor companies that build facilities in the United States — the so-called “CHIPS and Science Act.”

So far, there have been no takers among Japanese companies.

In South Korea, President Yoon Suk-yeol focused on another piece of U.S. legislation — the Inflation Reduction Act. Korea's government is concerned the law does not allow tax credits for electric vehicles assembled outside North America.

The president's office quoted Harris as saying she will “make efforts to address” those concerns.

One of the week's most substantive developments: a naval exercise involving U.S., South Korean and Japanese forces — the first time that's happened in more than five years.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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