[Sejong Policy Brief No. 2019-11]
Jin Chang Soo
Director, Center for Japanese Studies,
the Sejong Institute
○ The systemic change: the ROK-Japan relationship in the ‘New Normal’ era
- Japan's compounded distrust against South Korea: the composite mix of discontent on the forced laborers issue, anxiety regarding Sough Korea’s North Korea policy, and fatigue over Korea
- South Korea remains passive in its policy toward Japan
○ Mutual distrust is the reason behind the worst collapse of the ROK-Japan relations
- Lack of will to improve the relationship on both sides
- Diplomatic courtesy aside, lack of communication
- Both are being swallowed up into the vicious cycle of nationalism and populism
○ Absence of the United States
- Trump's indifference and the internationalization of the ‘Trump phenomenon’
○ The Abe regime is tempted to improve the DPRK-Japan relationship; ‘Two Koreas policy’
- Deterioration of the relationship with ROK reflects Japan's diminished aversion to direct negotiation with North Korea
○ The ‘tough-against-tough’ situation will be continued for a while
- The situation may endure to be a ‘kingmaker’ factor for Abe
- South Korea’s diplomatic difficulty will also be continued
○ The ROK government must establish principles in our policy toward Japan
- The government must detach history from economy, and in the short run, must play a role in minimizing the economic damage. The history issue should be handled through continuous dialogue with Japan in the long term.
○ Counter-strategies for the ROK government
- Two-pronged strategy for economy: appeal to the international society while securing allies within Japan
- 1+1+@ for history: What should be the role of the government?
- The most important is determination by the heads of each government
※ Translator’s note: This is a summarized unofficial translation of the original paper which was written in Korean. All references should be made to the original paper.
※ This article is written based on the author’s personal opinions and does not reflect the views of the Sejong Institute.