You could imagine China, Japan and South Korea (about 70 percent of Asian economy and 23 percent of the world GDP) as three great solo players who just can't function together as an instrumental ensemble.
I am reminded of a famous case like that in musical history. Arguably some of the best musicians of the past century – Arthur Rubinstein (piano), Jascha Heifetz (violin) and Gregor Piatigorsky (cello) – performed so well together for a while that (to Rubinstein's great displeasure) they were called "The Million Dollar Trio." But then the whole thing fell apart as Rubinstein and Heifetz engaged in irreconcilable personality clashes disguised as artistic disagreements.
Well, the three Northeast Asian neighbors had great hopes of establishing a very close trilateral trading relationship and held regular annual meetings between 2008 and 2012 to make that happen. And then, just like the famous trio, this promising regional economic partnership hit the wall as its members resumed feuding three years ago about territorial claims, wars of aggression and war crimes.
Some efforts at reconciliation were made recently, after they realized that enormous damage was done to regional trade and investment flows. But, amid smiles and photo opportunities, they all refused to make any concessions on irritants that led to renewed hostilities. So, the best they could do at the three countries' summit meeting on November 1, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea, was to agree to keep the dialogue alive, and to facilitate people-to-people contacts in an attempt to dispel old enmities.