Start GRASP/Korea Seoul and Tokyo Relations Likely to Continue to Fluctuate, Experts Say

Seoul and Tokyo Relations Likely to Continue to Fluctuate, Experts Say

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With 2018 coming to a close, a court case brought about by forced laborers in South Korea against Japan and the closing of a fund meant to assist victims of Imperial sexual slavery has contributed to the souring of bilateral relations between Seoul and Tokyo
With 2018 coming to a close, court cases brought by forced laborers in South Korea against Japan and the closing of a fund meant to assist aging victims of Japanese forced sexual slavery during World War II, have contributed to the souring of bilateral relations between Seoul and Tokyo.
Sejong University professor Yuji Hosaka tells VOA that the reason for the oscillating ties between the two countries is because of a conflation of the past and present.
„As president Moon [Jae-in] said the two-track policy which separates the history and current issues (like trade). Japan should do the same,“ he said.
Grant Newsham, a senior research fellow with the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies in Tokyo, proposes a different theory.
„The Japanese bring out the worst in the Koreans,“ he said.
Newsham said there is a deep resentment over how the Japanese treated Koreans during the 1910 – 1945 period when Tokyo controlled the peninsula.
He added, „unfortunately“ there’s resentment at the political level and an inability to let „bygones be bygones,“ which continues to affect bilateral ties, even though many other Asian countries have been able to move past the events that took place under Japanese forces during the Second World War.
Forced labor rulings
In October and November, South Korea’s top court, in multiple cases brought by South Koreans against Japan’s Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries regarding wartime forced labor, ordered the Japanese companies to pay compensation to the plaintiffs.
At the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in shook hands and exchanged greetings, but the pair had no formal talks, with Abe calling the ruling „unthinkable in light of international law.

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