A new chapter for Tokyo–Seoul relations, 50 years on?


Author: Lionel Babicz, University of Sydney

The synchronised but separate 50th anniversary celebrations of the Japan–South Korea Treaty on Basic Relations illustrates the relationship between the two countries: inexorably close and painfully distant. The 22 June 2015 celebrations were quite unusual. There was no summit meeting, but two parallel ceremonies with President Park Geun-hye attending in Seoul and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo. Read more…

Japan and South Korea must foster domestic support for bilateral relations

Members of South Korean conservative groups stage a protest outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on 1 March 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Junya Nishino, Keio University

Many expected Japan–Republic of Korea (ROK) relations to be reset when the Shinzo Abe and Park Geun-hye administrations first came to power, but the past two years or so have seen further deterioration and pessimism.

June 2015 will mark the 50th anniversary of the normalisation of diplomatic relations between the two countries, offering a perfect opportunity to construct a shared long-term vision for Japan–ROK relations. Read more…

A sustainable South Korea should stick with nuclear

A fire drill is underway at the Weolseong Nuclear Power Complex in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, on 28 October 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sanghyun Hong, University of Adelaide

Since the 1970s, nuclear power has provided cheap, stable and clean electricity that has fuelled South Korea’s rapid economic growth. Currently, 23 nuclear power plants with a total capacity of 21 gigawatts of electric energy are generating 27 per cent of South Korea’s total electricity needs. The wholesale price of nuclear power, US$52 per megawatt hour (MWh) in 2014, is still cheaper than coal (US$61/MWh) without any form of carbon pricing. Read more…

Dialogue the key to resolving comfort women history wars

People protest against Shinzo Abe and the Japanese government for failing to deliver an apology over the 'comfort women' issue and other war crimes in World War II during his official visit to the US on 1 May 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Mary M. McCarthy, Drake University

On 29 April 2015, Shinzo Abe became the first Japanese prime minister to speak before a joint session of the US Congress. Japan watchers listened closely, hoping to hear a preview of his upcoming statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Of particular concern is whether the prime minister will take a step back from the historic apologies of the 1995 Murayama Statement and the 1993 Kono Statement. Read more…

South Korean security caught in the US–China crossfire

South Korean Hyunmu-3 cruise missiles are displayed during a ceremony marking the anniversary of Armed Forces Day at a military airport near Seoul, South Korea. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Kiho Kwon, Peace Network

The US–South Korea relationship is beginning to show clear signs of disagreement on the issue of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) deployment. As the US aggressively pushes the need for this cutting-edge missile defense system, the South Korean government is becoming more reluctant to entertain its possibility. Read more…

How ethnic nationalism undercuts multiculturalism on the Korean peninsula

activists in seoul protest against the forced deportation of illegal migrant workers. foreign workers ‘continue to experience abuse and exploitation’. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Eun Jeong Soh, ANU

North and South Korea are widely regarded to be ethnically homogenous societies. But with minority populations having grown 
in numbers and importance in both Koreas, demographic homogeneity has become a myth. Read more…

Breaking the deadlock on the Korean peninsula

Shin Han-yong, vice president of a group of South Korean firms with factories at the Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea, speaks to reporters after returning from the park, 20 April 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Sangsoo Lee, ISDP

With the Six Party Talks — the main multilateral mechanism to negotiate North Korea’s denuclearisation — moribund since December 2008, the North Korean nuclear issue appears increasingly intractable. North Korea has proceeded with its nuclear program and enshrined its nuclear status in its constitution. Read more…