Visioning the Future of South Korea-Japan Relations
The Sejong Institute and Toda Peace Institute Joint Workshop
Tokyo, Japan 12-13 November, 2023
Since 2021, Toda Peace Institute and the Sejong Institute of South Korea have collaborated on a project to bring together key opinion leaders—parliamentarians, policy makers, academics and journalists—from Japan and South Korea to engage in an interactive problem-solving workshop aimed at understanding the root causes of the conflictual relationships between the two countries. The programme is designed to explore what needs to be done to establish the conditions for higher levels of trust, confidence and collaboration.
As the geopolitical landscape of Northeast Asia evolves, the strategic imperative for robust South Korea and Japan relations is becoming increasingly crucial. Particularly in the face of a rising China and the unpredictable belligerence of North Korea, historical tensions between Japan and South Korea not only undermine national interests but also compromise broader regional stability and security.
The third workshop, conducted from 12-13 November 2023, coincided with the 25th anniversary of the historic Obuchi–Kim Declaration (Japan–South Korea Joint Declaration). Amidst recent geopolitical tensions, this landmark declaration remains testament to the power of diplomacy and reconciliation.
This workshop engaged in candid and open discussions on the following themes:
Session 1: Diagnosis: Progress and challenges in South Korea-Japan relations
Examining the recent Yoon–Kishida rapprochement
Session 2: What can be learned from historic Japan–South Korea Joint Declaration of 1998 Kim–Obuchi Declaration?
What the Kim–Obuchi Joint Declaration aimed to achieve?
What are the impediments to those goals?
Session 3: Visioning future-oriented South Korea–Japan relations
What are the important next steps to take to solidify bilateral relations?
South Korea–Japan relations seem to have thawed in recent years with the Yoon administration’s plan to resolve the disputes over historical injustices, and compensate for the forced labour during the colonial rule. However, are the public in both countries satisfied with the current developments? Together with academics and key media representatives in both countries, the workshop focused on what efforts are needed to rebuild trust between the peoples of both countries.
A summary report of the 2023 Korea-Japan workshop in English and Japanese will be available in due course.