Korea, Japan, and the Missing Advocate: Kristin Vekasi and Jiwon Nam

July 12th, 2019

This month, the world was reminded once again that the relationship between the Republic of Korea and Japan is deeply fractious. Japan has imposed restrictions on the export of chemical components for semiconductor chips – accusing South Korea of failing to provide sufficient guarantees that these materials are not being smuggled into North Korea. However, the accusation comes amid a rift between the two countries over the South Korean court’s ruling that select Japanese companies that had forced Koreans into slave labor during the Second World War had to compensate surviving victims.

This crisis builds on top of existing tensions around other historical legacy issues stemming from Japan’s 35-year colonial occupation of Korea – including a disputed islet, ongoing controversy around compensation for sexual slavery by the Japanese military, and how Japan writes about these historical events in its textbooks.

The U.S. government has encouraged the two countries to make amends for decades with limited success. In this environment, who can be the advocate of reconciliation?

Dr. Kristin Vekasi (@ProfVekasi) and Jiwon Nam believe that the private sector has a critical role to play. The discussion builds on their recent research for the Korea Economic Institute, which you can find here: http://www.keia.org/sites/default/files/publications/kei_aps_namvekasi_190624.pdf

Also, keep your eye open for the upcoming publication of Vekasi and Nam's "Boycotting Japan Boycotting Japan: Explaining Divergence in Chinese and South Korean Economic Backlash" in the December 2019 issue of the Journal of Asian Security and International Affairs.

 
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