Thursday, February 25, 2021

Japan-South Korea dispute may get worse

After the last standoff between the Korea Coast Guard and Japan Coast Guard in January, it became known that situation continues worse and Korea currently calls Japan ‘neighbor,’ not ‘partner’.

South Korean media last week, reported that Korea referred to Japan as its “neighboring country” in its newly published defense white paper, instead of the term “partner,” which it used in the last policy publication in 2018.

The biennial white paper released by the Ministry of National Defense on 2 February described Korea and Japan as, “Neighboring countries that need to work together not only for bilateral relations but also for peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia and the world.”

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In 2018, it had stated, “Korea and Japan are geographically and culturally close neighbors and partners that need to work together for world peace and prosperity.

The change in tone reflects the strained ties between Seoul and Tokyo amidst a series of disputes over historical issues in recent years. The paper stated that Japanese political leaders’ territorial claims to the Dokdo islets, as well as Japan’s export restrictions imposed in July 2019, have hindered the development of a future-oriented relationship.

On top of that, in January, ships from Korea Coast Guard and Japan Coast Guard were engaged in a standoff that lasted almost 40 hours.

A Japan Coast Guard hydrographic survey ship Shoyo entered waters claimed as Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) by both nations and began survey operation. Korea Coast Guard responded by requesting the ship to cease survey operation and to request formal approval.

The standoff continued and both sides filed formal complaints against each other. A similar incident reportedly occurred in the same location in August of last year.

According to BBC, the two nations share a complicated history. They have fought on and off since at least the 7th Century, and Japan has repeatedly tried to invade the peninsula since then.

In 1910, it annexed Korea, turning the territory into a colony.

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Gu Min-Cheol
Gu Min-Chul is a defense reporter, covering the Korean defense industrial base and all related issues.

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