International Relations in Northeast Asia: Past, Present, and Future -- a Dialogue in The Journal of Asian Studies

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Experts Go Head-to-Head on Japan and South Korea

The long and complex relationship between Japan and South Korea comes under scrutiny in the latest issue of one of the leading voices on Asia, The Journal of Asian Studies (JAS).

Two experts on the region give their insights into where the two nations are currently, what may happen next for them and what lessons – good and bad – they can offer other countries.

The two debaters are David Leheny (Professor of East Asian Studies at the Department of East Asian Studies, Princeton University) and Victor Cha, DS (Song Professor of Government at Georgetown University and Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies).

Leheny and Cha give their take on issues raised by JAS Associate Editor David Kang. JAS is published by Cambridge University Press for the Association for Asian Studies.

All the main issues that most concern the two countries today are discussed. These include historic flashpoints such as the disputed ownership of a set of small, uninhabited islets that lie between Japan and South Korea (‘Dokdo’ in Korean and ‘Takeshima’ in Japanese); the question of ‘comfort women’ who provided sexual service to the Japanese imperial army during the Pacific War; and the controversial Yasukuni shrine in Japan, which houses the remains of some ‘Class A’ war criminals from the Pacific War.

Kang said: “The year 2012 was fascinating for domestic politics and international relations in Northeast Asia. Every country in the region experienced a change of leadership. In addition, regional relations took a turn for the worse, with numerous countries engaging in territorial and maritime disputes and disagreeing over interpretations of their shared histories.

“One of the most interesting dynamics involves Japan and South Korea so the editors thought that asking two scholars to look beyond the headlines of the complex and interesting Korea-Japan relationship, and to bring a scholarly perspective to bear on these issues, would be of interest to the readers of JAS. David Leheny and Victor Cha have delivered a thought-provoking, challenging dialogue – essential reading for anyone interested in the region.”

David Kang is Professor of International Relations and Business in the School of International Relations and the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California.

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Susan Soule
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