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Easing tensions between Korea and Japan Easing tensions between Korea and Japan
by Joseph Gatt
2019-08-13 09:11:11
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Advice to ease tensions between Japan and South Korea, in no particular order.

-It would be a big mistake to compare Japan-South Korea relations with German-Israeli relations. First point is cultural. After the Shoah, in 1971, West Germany and Israel normalized relations. First thing is we Israelis took it to the Book, the Bible. In Numbers and Deuteronomy, it says that you shall not judge a son for the actions of his father. Two is the geographic distance between West Germany and Israel, three is there is no major economic competition between West Germany and Israel, four is Germany does not pose a security threat to Israel, five is Germany voted very strict anti-racism and anti-Holocaust denial laws, six is Germany is an ally in economic and security matters with Israel.

korjapa-The nature of Japanese and South Korean relations are a lot more complicated. South Korea and Japan don’t have strict anti-racism or anti-fanaticism laws, South Korea and Japan are ferocious economic competitors, South Korea and Japan are geographically within 150 miles of each other, and Japan was always vague when it came to apologizing for World War II and for colonizing Korea. And in terms of security, Japan and Korea are somewhat frenemies that is allies in more than one way, but can also be competitors.

-The nature of economic relations between Japan and South Korea are complex. South Korea trades a great deal with Japan and the other way around, but many Korean companies have boycotted Japan for many, many decades, and many Japanese companies boycott South Korea. Japan and South Korea in international trade offer pretty much the same products, as in electronics and technology and chemicals and processed food and cars and construction and fish and the like. So it is understandable that competition can reach very worrying levels.

-South Koreans love one statistic: Singapore is the first country in the world to have surpassed its colonizer, the UK, in GDP per capita. South Korea's stated goal is to become the first country in the world to surpass its former colonizer in GDP. In the 1990s, Japan used to tease South Korea that South Korean GDP was equal to the revenue of Pachinko parlors in Japan. As of 2019, South Korea has not quite surpassed Japan in GDP, but is always getting a step closer.

-In security matters, South Korea and Japan cooperate closely, but South Korea was angered at Japan's attempt to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. South Korea very, very, very, very strongly opposed the move, and Ban Ki Moon spent a quarter of his time trying to prevent that from happening.

-In Japan “Kakukojin” (Korean) is an insult and in South Korea “wae-nom” (Japanese “dude”) is also an insult. There are no laws in Japan against provocative statements, and there are no laws in South Korea against provocative statements.

-So any deal between South Korea and Japan would need to look at all the provocative statements, would need to establish fair competition in economic terms, and would need to find good grounds for cooperation in security. The deal will probably be vague, as both South Koreans and Japanese people like vague deals that can be subject to interpretation depending on future circumstances.

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