The geopolitical terrain in Northeast Asia is shifting, and, fortunately, the region’s two great democracies, Japan and South Korea, are moving in a similar direction.

If prudent, strategic leadership prevails in both Tokyo and Seoul, the two countries’ historical enmity may finally be consigned to the past, and security across the Indo-Pacific region will be enhanced.

The catalyst for reducing the bilateral diplomatic friction — a problem that dates to the pre-World War II era– was Yoon Suk-yeol’s (no relation) inauguration as president of the Republic of Korea last May. With Yoon’s arrival in the presidential office, the pursuit of a chimerical “balance” in relations with China and the United States — previously a central focus of South Korea’s foreign policy — has given way to a more clear-eyed assessment of the country’s security needs.