While Japan and the Philippines pledge closer cooperation, the US is pushing South Korea and Japan to make nice over their disputed islands – that would be the islands called the Takeshima by the Japanese, the Dokdo by the Koreans and the Liancourt Rocks by others.
With China a protagonist in so many territory disputes in Asia, it doesn’t make sense to the US to sit by and watch a dispute between two of its democratic allies, South Korea and Japan, fester.
Adding to the tension between Tokyo and Seoul is Japan’s level of acknowledgement about its actions in Korea during WWII. One fear is that Shinzo Abe’s government will further inflame this issue by tinkering with a past official apology for its actions in WWII.
Although the islands are a thorny issue, I wouldn’t be surprised if, given the pressures mounting in the region, these two countries have a political motive to find more- and not less- agreement. The US doesn’t want to get bogged down in a dispute between two allies it has spent a lot of time, money and blood on in the past. And the US, much to China’s irritation, has the diplomatic finesse to coax their South Korea-Japan relationship along.