Information chart: on August 2, 2019, South Korean people protested against Japans removal of South Korea from the trade white list in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.
Trade disputes have brought bilateral relations into a freezing point
In a July 2019 poll, 77% of South Koreans said they dont like Japan, the highest level since 1991. In December of the same year, 71.5% of the respondents in a poll conducted by the Japanese Cabinet Office on the relations between Japan and South Korea said that they had no good feelings for South Korea, a new high since 1978.
All this will start from the trade dispute between the two countries that started in July 2019.
At that time, Japan took the lead in getting into trouble by strengthening the examination of three kinds of semiconductor industry raw materials exported to South Korea, and then excluded the South Korean side from the white list of trade facilitation. The rationale is appropriate export management for security reasons.
Information chart: on July 20, 2019 local time, South Korean people protested in front of the Japanese Embassy due to trade friction between Japan and South Korea.
South Korea defines this as economic retaliation on the part of Japan. In 2018, the Supreme Court of South Korea twice ruled that Japanese enterprises should pay compensation to Korean workers who were forcibly recruited during the colonization of the Korean Peninsula and seize the assets of Japanese enterprises in South Korea.
Subsequently, South Korea also pulled black Japan and refused to renew the agreement on military intelligence protection between Japan and South Korea (hereinafter referred to as the military intelligence agreement) in August of the same year. The relations between the two countries deteriorated rapidly.
As Zhou Yongsheng, a professor at the Institute of international relations of the school of foreign affairs, said in an interview with zhongxin.com, the military information agreement between Japan and South Korea is only a political symbol of cooperation between the two sides and the labor problem is the main reason why the two sides are frozen.
Those knots that are constantly cut and disordered
There have been several unresolved contradictions between Japan and South Korea for a long time, mainly for two reasons. One is historical reasons. Yang Xiyu, a researcher at the China Academy of international studies, said in an interview with China news.com.
When Japan colonized the Korean Peninsula, it forced the local people to work in Japan. In 1965, the two countries signed the agreement on the right of claim between Japan and South Korea. According to the Japanese side, after economic assistance to South Korea, the Japanese side solved all similar disputes and victims claims in one time.
On October 30, 2018, the Supreme Court of South Korea decided that the relevant Japanese enterprises should compensate each of the four Korean workers forcibly recruited by Japan during World War II for 100 million won. Li Chunzhi, the only 94 year old Korean living among the four, held a press conference to express his thoughts. Photo source: screenshot of YTN TV station in South Korea
However, since the late 1990s, some workers and their families in South Korea began to file lawsuits against Japanese enterprises for claims. One of the claims was rejected by the Supreme Court of Japan. After 15 years, the Supreme Court of South Korea made a judgment on compensation by Japanese enterprises in October 2018.
Not long after that, the Supreme Court of South Korea ruled in two more cases, supporting South Korean workers claims. The reason why the plaintiff won the case is that the Korean judicial authorities believe that the agreement on the right of claim between Japan and South Korea does not hinder the plaintiffs individual right of claim.
You come and I go on this issue, and we cant let each other.
However, there are far more than one historical legacy between the two countries.
Information chart: on December 30, 2015, in Seoul, South Korea, local people held high photos of comfort women and gathered in front of the Japanese Embassy to protest.
u2014u2014Comfort women: another knot
Since the Second World War, South Korean people have been trying to solve the problem of comfort women. Since 1992, people have spontaneously organized Wednesday gatherings around the issue of comfort women, asking for apology and compensation from the Japanese government. So far, more than 1400 gatherings have been held.
In December 2015, the Japanese government and the then South Korean Park Geun hye government reached an agreement on comfort women between South Korea and Japan. According to the agreement, the Japanese government invested 1 billion yen, and the Korean government set up the reconciliation and healing foundation to distribute consolation money to the victims.
The problem seems to be solved. However, the agreements clause that the South Korean government can no longer mention the issue of comfort women, and Japans failure to make official apology and compensation caused the dissatisfaction of the South Korean people.
Although there is an agreement on compensation for comfort women, the Korean people believe that compensation must be made from the perspective of the government, not from the perspective of the people, because the governments compensation is the correct understanding of that history. Yang said.
In fact, in 2012, Japans yoshihihiko Noda government proposed to South Korea that the Japanese government apologize to the living victims of South Korean comfort women, but the negotiations broke down due to different opinions between the two sides.
Data chart: disputed islands between Japan and South Korea (known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea).
After that, South Korean President Lee Myung Bak boarded the disputed islands between Japan and South Korea (South Korea called Dokdo, Japan called Takeshima), and the relations between the two countries gradually deteriorated.
And the island dispute between Japan and South Korea is the another main reason for the difficulty in solving the contradiction mentioned by Yang Xiyu.
According to Zhou Yongsheng, the island dispute is more like a card in the hands of both parties, which can be played when necessary, and can be shelved when the relationship between the two sides is relaxed.. Although it will be difficult to solve in the short term, it will not form too much conflict.
Data chart: on July 12, 2019, Japan and South Korea made their first direct contact on economic and trade frictions in Tokyo.
Do you need a ringer to clear the bell?
In a foreseeable period, it will be very difficult for Japan South Korea relations to really return to stable and harmonious coexistence.. Yang Xiyu and Zhou Yongsheng gave similar views on the trend of Japan South Korea relations.
Although the two sides had many contacts including summit talks after South Koreas Songkou did not terminate the military information agreement for the time being, they did not seem to find the exit of the puzzle. South Korea even decided on June 2 to restart its appeal to the WTO against Japans restrictions on exports to South Korea, and put it into action on June 18.
As for South Koreas move, Japan responded that the trade issue should be resolved through dialogue between the two sides, and expressed great regret for South Koreas unilateral act.
Data map: in December 24, 2019, Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and President of South Korea held moon Jae in Yin.
South Korea still wants to break the current situation, because imports of semiconductors and other products are subject to Japan, which is stuck in the neck, but Japan has no intention to back down, Zhou said
Yang Xiyu also believes that in order to break the deadlock, the dominant power should be in Japan. If Japan has a correct understanding of historical issues first, it will greatly ease the contradiction between the two sides.
Since half a century ago, various problems between the two countries have been intertwined. When it comes to their impact, Zhou Yongsheng believes that the bad relations between the two countries have a negative impact on the situation in Northeast Asia; if the relations between the two countries are resolved, it is beneficial to the relaxation of the situation in Northeast Asia.
You have to tie the bell. In theory, Japan and South Korea can solve problems on their own, without third-party intervention, and only an independent solution is the real solution, but there is no chance at present, Yang said