S-Space Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원) Institute for Japanese Studies(일본연구소) Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies (SJJS) Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies vol.7 no.1(2021)
Structural Change in Korea-Japan Relations during the 1990s and the Korea-Japan Joint Declaration: An Examination of the Transnational Attempts at Cooperation and Institutionalization in the Post-Cold War Era
- Yoon, Suk Jung
- Issue Date
- Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol.7 No.1, pp. 119-138
- Korea-Japan relations; structural change; historical issues; Korea-Japan cooperation; Korea-Japan Joint Declaration
- The purpose of this study is to analyze relations between the Republic of Korea and Japan in the 1990s from the perspective of the structural opportunities for cooperation provided by the end of the Cold War and Korea’s economic development and democratization. The collapse of the Cold War system and Korea’s economic and political development brought about a structural change in terms of the tensions over historical problems between the two countries rising to the fore. While at the same time it also presented an opportunity to build cooperative relations in a new era and over come these historical divisions. This article argues that while relations between the Korea and Japan in the 1990s brought about tensions over historical issues, both countries also began to perceive the other as an equal partner based on shared democratic values following the Korea’s economic development and democratization. It also highlights the desire of both countries to overcome their historical problems while searching for ways to cooperate in relation to the Korean Peninsula and the Asia-Pacific region amidst the post-Cold War international political landscape. Based on the No T’ae-u administration’s “Three Principles of Friendly Korea-Japan Cooperation” and Prime Minister Miyazawa’s policy of “Japan-Korea Relations in Asia and in the World,” Korea and Japan recognized that they shared similar social and governmental systems and values and were committed to cooperating in relation to the Korean Peninsula and at a regional level. Based on this, relations between the countries progressed during the Kim Yŏng-sam administration as a cooperative agenda was further discussed. This process took place throughout the first half of the 1990s and paved the way for the two governments to cooperatively pursue the Korea-Japan Joint Declaration which commented on earlier historical questions. This Korea-Japan Joint Declaration agreed upon by Kim Dae-jung and Obuchi Keizō was a bilateral initiative to soothe deteriorating relations by attempting to institutionalize a framework for cooperation among the two countries on historical reconciliation, the North Korea issue, regional cooperation, and human security amidst the changes of the 1990s.