Domestic politics presents major stumbling block to Korea-Japan relations

Domestic politics presents major stumbling block to Korea-Japan relations

In Korea, Yoon’s falling approval rating, opposition-led Assembly are obstacles; in Japan, anti-Korea sentiment, Abe’s death complicate bilateral ties

By Kang Hyun-kyung

In Japan-Korea relations, it is generally said that the ball is in the hands of Japan among Korean experts. In other words, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida holds the key, especially after his party’s big victory in the Upper House elections earlier this month.

It is important how President Yoon Suk-yul responds to repeatedly call for summit talks and discuss how to restore bilateral relations between the two countries.

However, some experts disagree with this assessment. They claim that the ball is actually in South Korea, not Japan. They say that President Yun’s plunging approval rate and the opposition leader-controlled parliament are some of the obstacles to improving Japan-South Korea relations.

“As you know, the biggest obstacle to the recovery of Japan-South Korea relations is the issue of forced labor during the war, because it is only a matter of time before the South Korean Supreme Court hears the lower court’s decision. We have confirmed that the sale of Japanese companies and their assets has been confiscated in South Korea to indemnify them and their families. ” Times “Unless this policy is reversed, it is unlikely that leaders of both countries will agree on a summit.”

Changing South Korea’s policy on the issue of forced labor during the war is something that the government can do. do not have. “But Congress can do that and Congress can take action. It is working on a change in the Supreme Court’s order,” he said.

Since the 2018 Supreme Court ruling ordered the Japanese company Nippon Steel to compensate the victims of forced labor in South Korea who survived the war, the victims and their families have been referred to the local courts in Japan in South Korea.

Requested to seize corporate assets. Approved. Another district court ordered Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Nippon Steel to sell their assets in South Korea to compensate victims of forced labor.

Japanese companies have appealed to the High Court, claiming that all war-related issues were resolved in the 1965 treaty that normalizes diplomatic relations between the two countries. The Korean Supreme Court has not yet ruled the case.

Those familiar with the case have stated that the ruling could be as early as August. The Supreme Court will probably uphold the lower court’s ruling, as overturning the case is equivalent to self-denial.

As Shin said, there is still a way to change the court’s future verdict, and parliament holds the key.

However, the parliament is now dominated by its main opposition, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPK), and is a law aimed at restoring Japan-South Korea relations in cooperation with President Yun and his ruling People Power Party. Is unlikely to pass.

Shin said President Yun’s plunging approval rate is another obstacle to restoring Japan-South Korea relations. “An issue like this is not something that President Yoon can push through without the backing of public opinion,” he said.

President Yoon Suk-yeol, left, U.S. President Joe Biden, center, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishia, right, sit for a trilateral summit held on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Madrid, Spain, June 29. Yonhap

 

Despite the challenges, Christopher Johnstone, senior adviser and chair of Japan at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., expressed optimism about Japan-South Korea relations.

“Solving historical problems is politically sensitive and difficult for both, but we pursue and urgently pursue such things as cooperation with North Korea, defense cooperation, and efforts to tackle economic problems such as semiconductor and supply chain resilience.

There is a big practical challenge to do, “he said. “While working on historical issues, I think they can and will move this agenda forward,” Mun Jane has bottomed out in recent years. President Yun opened a courtroom with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during his visit to the NATO summit in late June.

Last week, Foreign Minister Park Jin returned to Seoul after his trip to Japan to attend the talks. He tests the body of water for a summit meeting with key Japanese officials.

Impact of Abe’s death

Japan’s domestic politics has also emerged as a new obstacle to diplomatic relations.

The assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on July 8 further complicated bilateral relations. Prime Minister Abe, the country’s longest-serving but divisive former leader, said to the Unification Church, a religious movement that began in South Korea in the 1950s after his mother made a “huge donation” to his family’s church.

He was shot dead by a suspect with a grudge. bankruptcy. According to the Unification Church of the World Peace, Japanese members have been threatened with murder and have been exposed to hate crimes after the death of Prime Minister Abe.

Yuji Hosaka, a Korean citizen who was naturalized as a professor of humanities at Sejong University in Seoul, said there was room for improvement in Japan-South Korea relations after the death of Prime Minister Abe.

He said Prime Minister Abe himself was the leader of the largest faction within Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). “Since his death, power struggles have continued within the Abe faction. Six people compete to become the leader of the faction, but no one is as influential as Abe.

Therefore, a successor to Prime Minister Abe must be elected. He said, and predicted that it would be inevitable that Prime Minister Abe would split and weaken.

“What’s happening within the LDP is positive for Prime Minister Kishida and his political leader, Taro Aso, because he has more power to impose his agenda,” he said.

Contrary to South Korean media reports, Fumio Kishida said Japan had an army and would not prioritize constitutional amendments to end the pacifist constitution.

“Prime Minister Kishida himself and political leader Aso are moderate. Constitutional amendment is not their priority. Fumio Kishida considers Japanese government bonds to be a more important issue and will do so. We are trying to raise the consumption tax from the current 10% to 12% with the support of. ”

A mourner offers flowers next to a picture of late former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was shot while campaigning for a parliamentary election, on the day to mark a week after his assassination at the Liberal Democratic Party headquarters, in Tokyo, Japan July 15. Reuters-Yonhap

Prime Minister Hosaka was asked about the possibility of a Japan-Korea summit meeting later this year and said that there will be concrete results in bilateral relations between Japan and South Korea after September 27, when Japan is scheduled to hold a state funeral.

Fumio Kishida said, “The state funeral of the former Prime Minister is controversial with few opposition, but we needed the support of Prime Minister Abe, so we held the state funeral.”

John Stone said the two countries will ultimately pursue mutual benefit through cooperation rather than perpetuating bad relations.

“Since the inauguration of President Yun, Japan-South Korea relations have been positive, and I don’t think the assassination of Prime Minister Abe will change the course.” “Both Tokyo and Seoul recognize that it is in their interest to strengthen relations with the United States.”

However, Hosaka said there was a feeling of dislike among the Japanese, and Japan’s guidance. Those find it difficult to take steps to improve relations with South Korea if this is not resolved properly.

“The seize of power by the moderates of Japan is good for South Korea, but this should not be interpreted as an automatic guarantee of the restoration of Japan-South Korea relations, because anti-South Korean sentiment is still in Japan.

It exists, some Japanese are still skeptical of South Korea, and Koreans believe that “the Korean government should take action.” To make South Korea look like a reliable country for the Japanese. ”

 

Credit/Source : KoreaTimes

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