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Japan’s relations with the two Koreas have remained complicated and controversial, as recent anti-Japanese protests in South Korea demonstrate. This paper discusses the progress in bringing reconciliation between Japan and South Korea through an examination of four elements in the bilateral relationship: the historical legacies, the economic competition, the security imperatives (including the relationship with North Korea), and the flows of popular culture and people. It argues that the slowly improving bilateral Japan-South Korea relationship, to which growing economic interdependence, heightened interest in popular culture, and shared beliefs in peace and stability in North-east Asia all contribute, is nonetheless still subject to strong emotional surges and responses to perceived slights on both sides. The recent upsurge in tension, primarily over how Japan views its past, suggests that reconciliation will continue to be a slow and even contradictory process.


CAPS Working Paper Series No.157 (Jun 05)

Recommended Citation

Bridges, B. (2005).Distant neighbours? : Japan-Korea relations revisited (CAPS Working Paper Series No.157). Retrieved from Lingnan University website: