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Relations between Japan and the ROK in the Past Present and Future Essay Sample

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Relations between Japan and the ROK in the Past Present and Future Essay Sample

1. Introduction to ROK and Japan’s present relations:

ROK (Republic of Korea) and Japan are two neighbors in the Asian subcontinent, who can’t exist by avoiding each other. This has been proved from the various events of the past many decades. Whenever Japan needs imports in the form of various needy products, ROK always provide them with substantial amount. Whenever ROK needs finance, Japan provides them with a lot of funds. But the two countries hardly trust each other on any issue.

While Japanese try to consolidate to the people of ROK, ROK people do not find any feeling of confession in the Japanese attitude and wants to remain alert from Japan. While on the other hand, Japanese charged that the normalization with the ROK would draw Japan further into the U.S. alliance system. The improving relationship with North Korea will complicate relations with the PRC and the Soviet Union. The peace process will encourage the movement of Japanese capital to South Korea at the expense of domestic economy. And finally, it will open the Japanese market to a flood of goods produced by cheap Korean labor. 

Cause of problem between the two countries:

The problem in relations between the two countries rose from right from the colonial period. During the colonial period the ROK was under the Imperialist rules of Japan. The result was that their occurred many atrocities on the people of ROK. The Japanese Imperialist used them as slaves to make their work done. Some of them were even taken to Japan’s homeland. This was done to the ROK people for serving as laborer in the making of the various government projects. The result was that after the end of the defeat of Japan in the World War II and the end of Imperialist rule in ROK, people got so much angry by the past deeds of Japan.

This was the reason why the hatred made its way in the heart and mind’s of the people of ROK, against Japan. This kind of feeling is still present in many people. Today, many politicians even take full advantage of this feeling and try to gather the maximum votes for them. But the fact is that many attempts have been made from the past so as to bring an end to the anger of the people between the countries. Let’s have go through the past events which were meant to please the people of both sides so as to forgive and forget the past deeds of Japanese colonial rule.

2. Important happenings in the past to ease tension between the two countries:

In the year 1965, the President Park Chung Hee signed an agreement with South Korean counter part for normalization treaty and making arrangements for long-term Japanese economic assistance proved to be the most unpopular agreement between the two countries. This agreement was fully mobilized by the anti-Japanese emotions against his still far from consolidated regime. An estimate of nearly 305 million people participated in that anti-normalization agreement demonstration. In Japan also the normalization agreement was attacked both by the left opposition and by the elements within the ruling government.

All the process for normalization faced a big set back with a series of unrelated events occurred which rupture the relations between the two countries all the more. Firstly, the kidnapping of the opposition leader Kim Dae Jung by the agents of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA). Secondly, the harsh sentences imposed by a South Korean Court on two Japanese students accused of complicity with local antigovernment organizations. And thirdly the assassination of President Park’s wife by a Korean resident of Japan fueled the anger between the two countries.

Later in 1975, with the international events played a large part in moving both sides towards each other again. It included the possible impact of Saigon’s fall on American policy elsewhere in Asia, the belligerence of Kim II Sung’s post Saigon rhetoric and finally the discovery of two North Korean tunnels under the DMZ underlined for Seoul.

The leaders of both Japan and ROK again exchanged visits in 1983 and 1984. This was the opening of the new era of cordiality and understanding in relations between the two neighbors. The then Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone and the Chun Doo Hwan, the President of Japan made this initiation.

The Emperor on this occasion also aided the process by giving statement that it was indeed regrettable that there was an unfortunate past between all of them for a period in this century, and he believes that it should not be repeated again. The king also acknowledges Korean cultural contributions and telling Korea as a teacher and Japan the student from most of the several years of relationship.

The present issues:

There are almost 670,00 number of Japan’s Korean minority. These are the successors of the prisoners or slaves, which were brought to Japan during the colonial period. These people complaint of social and legal discrimination. Also the Japanese view Koreans as inferior people prone to crude and criminal behavior.  Also these people suffer the deeds of North Korean in creating nuisance in the country.

The South Korean government has always been trying of getting a special position for the members of Korean minority. The Alien Registration Law, which require resident Koreans like other aliens to carry identification cards and to be fingerprinted every five years is the most disgraced law on the part of the migrant Koreans. The father Korean and Mother Japanese also does not get the citizenship of Japan. Therefore the ROK is trying to end this kind of discrimination with the their minority people and pressing Japan to provide Koreans with increased employment opportunities and national pension benefits.

South Korea also remains opposed to any official contact between Japan and North Korea. The reason behind is that the country is fearful of even unofficial contacts between the two countries leading in political ties that may effect the political and economic interest of the country. South Korea also opposes any trading connections that could strengthen North Korean military capabilities.

The economic issues:

South Korea is Japan’s second largest trading partner while Japan is South Korea’s second largest customer after United States, taking 16% of its exports in 1983. In 1983, cumulative net Japanese investment totaled $843.4 million (49.5%) as compared with the $471.4 million (27.7%) for United States.

Government to Government technical agreements have been reached so as to help the South Korea to get the better technical know how for increasing efficiency in the output of the country. South Korea complaints about the Japanese authority, for not supplying enough of the knowledge to its people. While Japanese respond that all the economic prosperity of the South Korea is due to Japan’s technical know how.

The future of relations between Japan and ROK:

The attempts made by Chun and Naksone have contributed a great deal to the current warmth of the Tokyo-Seoul relationship. The new understanding between the two countries is helping to sublimate old grievances. Both the countries are trying to move towards good relationship as it is an important step forward their international acceptance of their broader role and towards enhancing their national prestige. The sight of Japanese flag flying in Seoul was a disturbing but a serious step taken in ending the years old controversy and conflict. From these kinds of attempts Chun trip was criticized at that time, but the attempts of bringing peace and harmony in the neighborhood did showed results up to great extent.

Interest in each other country is also growing day by day. A Korean language course is being given on daily basis on the Japanese television and is quite popular. On the other hand, a book on Japan by a Korean writer proved to be best sellers in the ROK. The Korean students find easy to pass required foreign language examination in Japanese than in English.


The relations between ROK and Japan are improving after the attempts of its great leaders who kept behind their conservative and skeptical behavior. Both the countries are getting benefited out of the peaceful relations between the two. The old thinking of the people of both countries like past disgrace and looking down on ROK people has been declining and is now just used by the politicians to gather votes only.


Japan and the Republic of Korea: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Evelyn Colbert

Asian Survey, Vol. 26, No. 3. (Mar., 1986), pp. 273-291.

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