Can South Korea and Japan overcome disputes and build stronger relationships?

Tensions rise on the South Korean peninsula recently for several reasons. South Korea is under suspension of fire with North Korea. Two months ago, two South Korean border patrol troops were severely injured by landmines that turned out to be laid by North Korea. And South Korea-Japan relations have been worse during past year by tensions over apologies forgotten for past aggression, disputed territories, and JSDF (Japan Self-defense Forces). They are in the midst of negotiating issue of security and economics to recover their relationships, however, conflictual political relations would not move to toward reconciliation easily because of tensions I mentioned.

Foreigners could get such an idea that South Korea seem stuck in the past that they still strongly argue that Shinzo Abe who is a Japan’s Prime Minister should apologize for the Japan’s action in the past such as ‘comfort woman’ and to the peoples of the victim nations by Japan’s aggression in WWII era. Even though Abe said, “Japan has repeatedly expressed feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology for its actions during the war,” but here’s what he actually said, “On the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, I bow my head deeply before the souls of all those who perished both at home and abroad. I express my feelings of profound grief and my eternal, sincere condolences.” This is much like an apology, but many victims had expectations to hear the word ‘sorry’ or ‘apology’, however he never used such word. When he insists that he did apology, Abe used the word, ‘apology’ or ‘remorse’, however, he did not use it when he apologized. Furthermore, Abe visited the ‘Yasukuni Shrine’. Did Abe really apologize? What kind of apologize is this?


Relations between the two countries have been further strained by tensions over disputed territories. Few years ago, former president, Lee Myung-bak visit to the islands known as Dokdo to South Koreans and Takeshima to Japanese, it raised highest diplomatic tensions between two countries. There are several reasons that the significance and importance of the Dokdo island to South Korea and Japan. History of Dokdo shows that why it is Korean Island. Since 512 A.D. Dokdo inhabitants from South Korea lived in there. Why now Japanese show movement toward to Dokdo? Japan is always concerned about the economic interests. Japan already showed their power and stressed it to change the name of sea in the maps that they changed from ‘East Sea’ to ‘Sea of Japan’. Maybe their next step will be taking a Dokdo island. Korea should maintain possession of the islands based on historical claims.


The new laws allow Japan to defend itself when they feel they need to defend themselves or if their close allies attacked, they would use their Self-Defense Forces for the reason of resolving international disputes. However what South Korea worry about is that possibility of JSDF’s intrusion on South Korea sovereignty.

In conclusion, It is obvious that the economic relationship between South Korea and Japan is close. However they are maintaining conflictual political relations at the same time by numerous issues over the years. It seems not solved soon. How long can they maintain this kind of relationships without solving disputes?

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2 thoughts on “Can South Korea and Japan overcome disputes and build stronger relationships?

  1. I feel like the apology is just a formality, and that if they were truly sorry for the forced sexual slavery of the women they would offer them monetary compensation and retribution


  2. I think one of the hardest things about getting the Japanese government to apologize for WWII atrocities is that so much time has passed that the people in power had nothing to do with the war. The things that the Japanese did to all of the nations they invaded in the war were horrible but why is it that Germany does not fall under the same level of scrutiny? I think this article sums up pretty well that there are underlying issues behind the countries involved that go well beyond just apologizing for war crimes that were committed seven decades ago.


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