IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


10th July, 2023 Geography

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Recent protests lodged by Japan against South Korea regarding military drills conducted by the latter on disputed islands.


  • Japan has lodged protests with South Korea over military drills conducted by the latter on disputed islands.
  • The disputed islands, known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in Korea, lie in the Sea of Japan.

Japanese Protest and Summoning

  • Japan's foreign ministry issued a statement calling the military drills "unacceptable and extremely regrettable."
  • A senior diplomat from the South Korean embassy in Tokyo was summoned by Japan's foreign ministry.
  • Similarly, a senior South Korean official was summoned by the Japanese embassy in Seoul to protest.

Historical Background

  • The disputed islands have a complex history with various claims by both Japan and South Korea.
  • Japan controlled the islands during its colonization of Korea in the early 20th century.
  • After World War II, South Korea gained control of the islands, which were later claimed by Japan.

Sovereignty Dispute over the Islands

  • Both Japan and South Korea claim sovereignty over the group of islets, creating longstanding tensions.
  • Japan refers to the islands as Takeshima, while South Korea calls them Dokdo.
  • Japan asserts that Takeshima is an inherent territory based on historical facts and international law.

Legal and Diplomatic Disputes

  • Both Japan and South Korea have engaged in legal and diplomatic battles to assert their claims over the islands.
  • The issue has been brought to international forums, including the United Nations and the International Court of Justice.

Context of Bilateral Relations

  • Despite the ongoing dispute, recent bilateral frictions between Japan and South Korea have eased.
  • Shared concerns about China's growing influence and U.S. encouragement of closer collaboration among allies have played a role.
  • S., Japanese, and South Korean leaders are expected to hold a trilateral summit in the United States.

U.S. Response and Trilateral Relationship

  • The U.S. State Department commented that the question of sovereignty is for South Korea and Japan to resolve.
  • Emphasized the importance of a robust and effective trilateral relationship for shared security and common interests.

South Korean Perspective and Justification

  • A South Korean military official stated that the drills were routine exercises conducted every year.
  • Described the drills as a means to protect their territory, people, and property in the East Sea.

About Japan South Korea Relations

  • Japan and South Korea are neighboring countries in East Asia with complex historical and contemporary relations.
  • The two countries have had periods of cooperation, economic ties, cultural exchange, but also significant challenges and tensions.

Historical Background

  • Historical tensions stem from Japan's colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.
  • The issue of comfort women, forced labor during World War II, and unresolved historical disputes continue to strain relations.

Political and Diplomatic Challenges

  • Diplomatic relations have been strained at times due to disagreements over historical issues and territorial disputes.
  • Political leaders from both countries have made statements and taken actions that have further exacerbated tensions.

Economic Interdependence

  • Despite political tensions, Japan and South Korea maintain significant economic ties.
  • Both countries are major trade partners and have substantial investments in each other's economies.

Cultural Exchanges

  • Cultural exchanges have played a role in promoting mutual understanding and cooperation between Japan and South Korea.
  • The popularity of Korean pop culture (K-pop) and Japanese pop culture (J-pop) has contributed to cultural exchange and soft power diplomacy.

Territorial Disputes

  • The territorial disputes over Takeshima/Dokdo and the East China Sea islands (known as Senkaku/Diaoyu) have been sources of tension.
  • The disputes involve conflicting sovereignty claims, leading to periodic escalations and strained relations.

Impact of Security Dynamics

  • The security dynamics in the region, particularly the North Korean nuclear threat and China's growing influence, have influenced Japan-South Korea relations.
  • The United States, as a key ally to both countries, plays a role in shaping their security cooperation.

Challenges in Historical Reconciliation

  • Historical issues, such as comfort women and forced labor, have been sources of contention.
  • The lack of consensus and differing interpretations of history between Japan and South Korea hinder efforts for reconciliation.

Importance of Regional Cooperation

  • Despite the challenges, regional cooperation is seen as crucial for peace, stability, and economic prosperity in East Asia.
  • Various regional forums and initiatives provide platforms for Japan and South Korea to engage in multilateral cooperation.


Q)Analyze the challenges, including historical disputes and territorial conflicts, that have strained the bilateral ties.  (150 words)