The dispute between South Korea and Japan has raised concerns over the potential implications for their security cooperation in the face of North Korean missile tests, and the possible impact on global supply chains Photo: AFP/File
politics

Emotion more than economic factors driving S Korea-Japan trade row: analysts

14 Comments
By Sunghee Hwang and Hiroshi Hiyama

A spiraling trade row between Japan and South Korea is being driven more by emotion than economic factors, analysts say, with leaders of the U.S. allies risking their security ties for domestic political considerations, to Washington's consternation.

Seoul and Tokyo -- both of them democracies and market economies -- this month removed each other from their lists of favored trading partners.

That came after Japan imposed restrictions on exports crucial to tech giants such as Samsung, the world's biggest smartphone and memory chip maker, citing security issues, which raised worries over global supply chains.

The relationship between the neighbors has long been strained by issues stemming from Japan's brutal colonization of the peninsula in the first half of the 20th century.

The latest moves followed a series of South Korean court rulings ordering Japanese firms to pay for forced labour -- an issue Tokyo says was resolved under the 1965 treaty normalizing their relations.

South Koreans have since mounted a widespread boycott that has seen sales of Japanese cars plunge more than 30 percent and forced several airlines to suspend routes to their neighbor because of falling demand.

Some lawmakers have pushed for a boycott of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and a travel ban on the country, citing supposed radiation risks from the Fukushima disaster eight years ago.

A news anchor was even forced to clarify on-air that his pen was locally-made after a suspicious viewer called to complain that the implement looked Japanese.

Japan's Mainichi Shimbun said in an editorial that both sides had "fallen into a negative spiral of blaming each other, apparently while keeping domestic sentiment in mind", warning the two governments that it was "highly risky to instigate nationalism".

Nearly seven out of 10 South Koreans still harbor negative feelings towards Japan and President Moon Jae-in regularly highlights past history.

The South "will never again lose to Japan", he said this week, thanking the public for countering Tokyo's actions with "one heart" in an apparent endorsement of the boycott.

For his part Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a conservative nationalist whose grandfather was a wartime minister, harbors ambitions to revise his country's pacifist constitution and has repeatedly said Japan need not continually apologize for its past actions.

Troy Stangarone, senior director at the Korea Economic Institute, pointed out that Japan's first measures came ahead of an upper house election while Seoul will hold a parliamentary vote in April.

"Taking a hard line appeals to key constituents in both countries, so compromise may be more difficult to achieve until passions have dissipated," he told AFP.

Now Seoul is threatening to terminate a military information-sharing agreement with Tokyo that gives it access to intelligence gathered by Japan's sophisticated surveillance satellites, to the alarm of Washington and the delight of nuclear-armed North Korea.

Pyongyang -- which has launched four pairs of projectiles over the past two weeks -- regularly denounces Japan over wartime history in vitriolic terms.

The US has voiced frustration over the actions of its key Asian allies, underlining their shared regional challenges.

"We believe that some soul searching is in order about political decisions that have damaged bilateral trust," said Marc Knapper, deputy assistant secretary of state for Japan and Korea.

"Calm, confident words from national leaders, we believe, will generate a similar response for their nations," he told the Heritage Foundation think-tank.

There are no indications either side might soon comply.

In an editorial, the Korea Herald said that politicians from Moon down were "fanning the flames of anti-Japanese sentiment to take advantage of it for their own political gain".

And Hidehiko Mukoyama, senior economist at Japan Research Institute, said Abe had been facing growing frustration within his Liberal Democratic Party over South Korea.

"Something had to be done to take the steam out. The prime minister perhaps needed to show a strong stance to unite the party."

But Tokyo had miscalculated the South Korean reaction, he added. "It appears that this is moving in the opposite direction from what the Japanese government seemed to have expected."

And the South Korea-Japan row is not the only example of the phenomenon, analysts point out.

The two countries themselves have been hit by the fallout from the US-China trade war, which threatens to undermine the global economy that both of them are integrally connected to.

"Unfortunately, the weaponization of trade is quickly becoming a feature rather than an exception to international trade," said Stangarone. "Each time a country uses national security as an excuse to use economic coercion to achieve another objective, international trade rules and national security are weakened."

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

14 Comments
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A spiraling trade row between Japan and South Korea is being driven more by emotion than economic factors, analysts say,

Really? driven by emotions, you don't say. I hope somebody didn't pay this person to do an analysis and come up with this answer.

the weaponization of trade

Another useless buzz word by a cut and paste reporting.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

A news anchor was even forced to clarify on-air that his pen was locally-made after a suspicious viewer called to complain that the implement looked Japanese.

LOL. There's only one country involved where emotions are over riding thinking.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Not to mention it is THE emocratic country that is escalating the row by emotion, there are

several key words intentionally plugged in for the purpose of indoctrinating mass with subliminal effects as always.

 Japan imposed restrictions on exports

issues stemming from Japan's brutal colonization of the peninsula

whose grandfather was a wartime minister,

8 ( +10 / -2 )

The relationship between the neighbors has long been strained by issues stemming from Japan's brutal colonization of the peninsula in the first half of the 20th century.

Ok! My question is: So what?

If I think about how many people had made wrong things to me and didn't apologized for it, I will not live.

Unfortunately in cases like this example that I gave, we have to forget and move on.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The latest moves followed a series of South Korean court rulings ordering Japanese firms to pay for forced labour -- an issue Tokyo says was resolved under the 1965 treaty normalizing their relations.

Certainly this "court" ignored agreements made in 1965 and 2015. Regardless of it, why should Japan pay more money to them when actually it(compensation) has already paid?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Some lawmakers have pushed for a boycott of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and a travel ban on the country, citing supposed radiation risks from the Fukushima disaster eight years ago

Almost one decade has passed and we are still alive and living a normal life. Now, if they want to boycott the Olympic Games, so go ahead, but don't make excuse like this. Otherwise people around the world will think that your protest is moved by emotion and not for good reason.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The latest moves followed a series of South Korean court rulings ordering Japanese firms to pay for forced labor -- an issue Tokyo says was resolved under the 1965 treaty normalizing their relations.

There is ample precedent in international law that a treaty struck between countries is still valid even if subsequent governments in one or both countries change and choose to repudiate earlier governments.

Japan and the ROK did indeed strike a deal settling all outstanding issues from the colonial period and WWII in 1965. Is Japan at fault because the ROK under Park did not allow Korean citizens to individually sue Japan? Hardly!

Moon is trying to walk a fine line courting China and raising his citizens' ire vis a vis Japan to recover his lost popularity.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The South "will never again lose to Japan", he said this week, thanking the public for countering Tokyo's actions with "one heart" in an apparent endorsement of the boycott.

*As i imagined* this protest is organized by their own government . Common citizens are just being used as a tool for those politics.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Driven by emotions huh?

Next thing you know they'll be telling me the sky is blue.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

A Korean friend says this is also kicked up by Korean nationalistic groups. If there is no conflict, they do not get any donations from people. So it is about money.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

The AvengerToday 09:37 am JST

The latest moves followed a series of South Korean court rulings ordering Japanese firms to pay for forced labor -- an issue Tokyo says was resolved under the 1965 treaty normalizing their relations.

There is ample precedent in international law that a treaty struck between countries is still valid even if subsequent governments in one or both countries change and choose to repudiate earlier governments.

I read a sociologist suggesting that the Koreans and Chinese have not yet fully embraced those kind of modern thinking and still believes that the top is a dynasty and when that dynasty fails the the successor is able to rewrite everything from scratch.

With China you can understand with ROC being toppled over by PRC and at the moment it is the Communist dynasty.

It's the Koreans that makes thing difficult to understand, adopting a normal election to decide who is the next leader but each time the ruling majority party fails to gain the throne the prior leader is sentenced to prison or worse so basically they haven't actually embraced the modern democratic system.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

There are so few left, that were Japan to Capitulate and pay off those survivors handsomely I'd wonder whether it would be meaningful or have any impact upon Japan's GDP - so why not do it and put an end to all this fuss.... ? Descendants have got no claim ... unless they wish to become Japanese Citizens through DNA claims.... ?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

If it were that simple korean principle don't work that way as lunar presidency changes to solar presidency they will again ask compensation iys a vicious circle of korean demandcrazy

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

So why do we ignore the San Francisco Treaty and call the Kurils Japanese territory?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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