Sample Research Paper on The change in relations between Japan and South Korea after the divide of the Korean Peninsula

Japan and South Korea relations

Japan and Korea has had political, trade, cultural, and military contact for over 1,500 years. This defines their relations to this data. Interaction between the Japanese island and the Mainland Asia during the ancient era has been characterized by cultural and ideological exchange, which was common through migration achieved through the Korean Peninsula or trade and diplomatic contact between Japan and Korea. Japan’s contact with the rest of Asia was mostly through the Korean peninsula. Many cultures and practices that are predominant in Eastern Asia like rice cultivation, Chinese foods, Buddhism, Chinese characters among other technology were introduced to Japan from this region through Korea (Hoare, 2012). Therefore, Korea has been the main point of interaction between Japan and the continental Asia

Japan and Korea relations have been in place for at least two millennia. People have moved between Korean peninsula and japan in significant numbers since the fourth century. Many of the technology and knowledge from Asia that is also common in Japan were taken to Japan through Korea. There exist indications and evidence of political influence from each side. There however exist many accounts regarding from which direction the influence flowed. Korean historians generally explain that that people who went to Japan through Korea from the continent turned to be the ruling class of Japan in the ancient times. The ruling class is also believed to have maintained close ties with Baekje, one of the three main Korean kingdoms. As a result, Buddhism was introduced from Baekje, Korea to Japan. Japan has also had military engagements with Korea, for instance by supporting Baekje in a war against the other two Korean Kingdoms. Japan’s initial official engagements with china were made possible by Interactions mainly through Korea.

Japan has also occupied the Korean Peninsula and committed atrocities there. Japan and Korea relations have not always been rosy. After the partitioning of Korea into North and South, Japan’s relations with either of the two have taken completely different directions, especially due to influence of the world war, westernization, the cold war and world politics in general. This paper examines how the relations between the Korean peninsulas have morphed as a result of influence from world events and history to this day. It also seeks to explore how the history between these nations has not deterred them from participating in big joint projects like the co-hosting of the world cup in 2006.


In the Japanese history version, most of the incursions into Korea are remembered for the role that they played in bringing to Japan Korean earthenware skills and styles. The Korean invasions are generally referred to by the imperial eras of reign, in which they happened. The Japanese also refer to them as the Pottery Wars or Tea bowl Wars. In Korea, the invasions are named in the same way. They are collectively known as or independently as the Imjin and Jeongyu Waeran. These are the cyclical designations of the years, which roughly correspond with 1592 and 1597. In English, the Korean terms like Imjin War are adopted to refer to these wars. In other instances, a general designation like the Japanese invasion of Korea in the 16th century are used (Turnbull, 2008).

First Invasion

In 1592, General Hideyoshi sent an army of around 160,000 warriors to invade Korea, with the figure varying among sources. Forces grouped in and around Hakata and other places in Chikuzen province-Japan from which they then left for Korea, moving local anglers and the kind into service. These forces rowed their boats, to assist in transporting the samurai forces to Korea across the water.Initially, the samurai enjoyed important early military successes. They gainined considerable territory and created considerable destruction on the Korean landscape.However, towards the conclusion of the war, the Chinese Ming Court sent warriors to Aid the Koreans, led by Li Rusong. The Japanese invasion was finally pushed out of Korea completely.

On the other front, Yi Sun-shin commandeered the Korean navy to victory in three main decisive naval battles. The victory in the Battle of Hansando particularly led to the regaining of control of sea routes from the Japanese (Turnbull, 2008).

Second Invasion

The second invasion was launched in 1597 but was later terminated and abandoned. This was due to HideYoshi’s death. Incidentally, throughout both invasions, HideYoshi had remained in Japan.Thousands of Koreans were taken as prisoners to Japan in these invasions. Many of the prisoners captured were potters who were used to produce the much-prized Korean-style tea bowls for the Japanese. Many Japanese styles trace their roots to this Korean Influence. Many Koreans were settled in regions of Japan for the manufacture of Ceramics. Many of these regions maintained a visible influence of the Korean culture. Captives’ repatriation became a key Korean demand during the negotiations to reopen diplomatic relations and trade in the following decades. Most of these negotiations took place in Korean embassies in Japan. Finally, only around 7500 of Koreans in Japan were taken back home. Japan did not stop its aggressive nature and even ventured into China. It invaded and occupied Chinese and Korean regions in the expansion of the Japanese Empire (Hwang, 2010).

The most recent Japanese Occupation of Korea is the result of a process that started with the 1876 Japan–Korea Treaty. Japanese military, government, and commerce people sought to add Korea into the Japanese Empire, both politically and economically. This, they would implement first as a territory in 1905 through the Korea and Japan Treaty, and later officially annexation in 1910. Japan closed the Korean Joseon Dynasty and Korea was officially integrated into the Japanese Empire. After the defeat of Japan in the Second World War in 1945, Japanese rule of Korea ended. The Korea-Japan treaties were declared invalid in 1965 in a new treaty on the Basic Relations between the Korean Republic and Japan. The influence of transformation and industrialization of Korea by the Japanese continues to be the source of controversy between on the legacy of the Japanese in Korea.

The Cold War

During the Cold war, Korea was split into the China-Russia supported North and the United States supported South. The two countries implemented different political and government systems, each being supported by the respective powers. The relations of Japan and South Korea improved due to their relation with the Capitalist West. Japan was politically disturbed by the cold war as a security threat. This was due to the initial setback of South Korea. Another threat came from left-wing undertakings in backing of North Korea. These elements also aimed to bring a communist uprising in Japan. In addition, Japan’s security faced problems as American occupation armies entered the Korean peninsula. However, under the guidance of the United States Japan created a Reserved Police and later the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (Fuccello, 1997).

Japan gained economically from the Korean War. It helped in the rise of the Japanese economy development into a major world power. A special procurement system was created for the American supplies requirements. The system allowed for local purchases that bypassed the intricate system of procurement of the Pentagon. A huge amount of money, over 3.5 billion dollars, was spent on companies in Japanes. This amount topped 809 million dollars in 1953. Japan went from a distrusted player to an encouraged one. Japanese manufacturing grew tremendously from 1950 to 1951. The living standards of japan before the war were reached. Output was twice the 1949 level. Japan becoming independent after the San Francisco Treaty saved it from the expenses burden of occupation forces.During the Korean war, many Koreans fled to Japan. They were already relying on relatives who were living in Japan to give them shelters and necessary documents to live legally. Joining the other Koreans in Japan, they formed the largest Korean Population in japan in the era after the Second World War

Relations with the North

Japan relations with North Korea have not been established formally. However, the two governments have had diplomatic talks to discuss North Korea nuclear program issues and kidnapped Japanese citizens. Relations between Japan and North Koreaare badly strained and marked with hostility and tension. A 2014 BBC World Service survey in 2014 reported that 91% of Japanese people take the influence of North Korea’s negatively. Only 1% voiced a positive view. This is North Korea’s most negative perception in the world.Since the partitioning of Korea, North Korea worked on seeking re-approaching with japan through various programs and economic collaboration projects. An example is where North Korea took an opportunity when there were tensions between South Korea and Japan because of the Syngman Rhee Line. The Japanese were also seeking resetting relations with the Soviet Union. They took the opportunity to strike a deal with North Korea. As a result, relations flourished and things seemed set for the best (Mason, 2010). This was from 1955 to 1964. However, in 1965, South Korea struck a collaboration and relations treaty with South Korea, which soured relations between the Japanese and North Koreans.

Up to the late eighties, North Korea’s mainly aimed at minimizing the cooperation between South Korea and Japan through its policies. It also aimed at deterring rearmament of Japan’s while at the same time striving for closer commercial and diplomatic ties with the Japanese. However, in the late 80s, relations frosted again. Several confrontations have occurred between North Korea and Japan over former’s underground activity in Japan other than abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korean agents. These activities included marine poaching, spying and drug smuggling. Missile tests by North Korean missile tests also a concern the Japanese because sometimes the missiles go through Japanese territory and airspace. The states have worked towards improving relations through talks.

Relations with the south

After the partition of Korea, the Republic of Korea and Japan had established diplomatic relations. Under the Treaty of 1965 on Basic Relations between the two nations, Japan recognized South Korea as the legitimate Korean Peninsula government.The two nations are close neighbors. The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs explains the relations with South Korea as ‘sharing important values like democracy, freedom, respect for human rights, and common goals in regional peace and security maintenance’. The relation has however greatly deteriorated in recent years. This has been due to many disputes that include territorial claims of Liancourt Rocks, visits to Yasukuni Shrine by the Japanese prime ministers, and differing views Japanese imperialist and colonialist past. These tensions have been a source of complications for the American efforts to build a common front against the regional threat that is China.

The BBC World Service Poll of 2014 revealed that, 37 percent of Japanese viewed South Korea’s influence as negative, with only 13 percent viewing it as positive. 15 percent of South Koreans see Japanese influence positively. A majority 79 percent expressed negativity. Only china beats SouthKorea in the degree of negativity with which it views Japanese influence, in the world. The source of this negativity is Japanese Imperialist history, which the Koreans have never failed to criticize. The Japanese on the other hand have never found urgency in apologizing for its past in Korea, mostly focusing on the industrialization and modernization it introduced in Korea(Mason, 2010)..

Despite the many disputes that negatively affect their relations, South Korea and Japan enjoy many cultural exchanges between each other. Popular culture has been such a case. Recently, South Korean pop culture became very popularity in Japan. This is referred to in Japan as the Korean wave. It has sparked a liking for Korean music, movies and dramas in Japan. Korean Television series like Winter Sonata became extremely popular between the Japanese. BoA, a popular Korean Pop female singer is also popular in Japan, with songs topping the Japanese billboard charts. Many more Korean Musicians are popular in Japan today. At the conclusion of the Second World War, Japanese music, video games, literature, and films were banned in South Korea. The ban was however partially lifted under the leadership of Kim Dae-Jung in 1998. The ban on Japanese CDs and DVDs imports was lifted in in 2004. It is currently still illegal to broadcast television dramas and Music from Japan (Chua, 2008).

South Korea agreed with Japan to sign a military pact in 2012. This was possibly in response North Korean and Chinese threats. This agreement defined a military intelligence-sharing pact. Both countries are allies of the United States and maintain their military alliances with the Americans. The two countries also perceive North Korea as a threat. Announcement by FIFA of South Korea and Japan hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2002 saw leaders of both countries meeting to warm relations when preparing for the games. Initially, both countries’ citizens were not happy with having to share the honors of the tournament with each other. The Dokdo islands dispute controversy also flared up between the two, just before the world cup. The event however turned was very successful.


The relations between Korea and Japan have been long. As one would expect, they have been both good at times and frosty at other times. The main reason as to why the centuries long relations have turned sour is Japan’s aggressive and militaristic past, which has seen Japan invade Korea since its ancient existence as a group of Kingdoms. Korea has not been the only recipient of Japanese expansionist and imperialist vigor. China has also been a victim. China has had territory occupied by an Aggressive Japan for long. On the other side, the relations of China and Japan have not always been bad. There has been a steady cultural and commercial interaction between Japan, Korea, China and other Continental Kingdoms. As indicated in the document, Japan’s interaction with Mainland Asia has been mostly through the Korean peninsula. This is the reason why the Koreans have taken in Japanese invasions firsthand, and hardest than any other nation. They have also enjoyed cultural and commercial interactions with the Japanese on a scale no other nation has.

After the world war, the defeat of Japan resulted in the Japanese losing most of its Imperial territory, including Korea. Korea became independent and Japan had to establish relations with them as equal independent nations and not territories of a larger personal empire. The time immediately after the world war resulted in the partition of the North and South of Korea. North Korea took up a totalitarian government with communist economy, just like their mentors China and The Soviet union. On the other hand, South Korea received the support and mentorship of the Americans. As a result, the country took up a Capitalist economy powered by a democratic government. The Americans occupied Japan after defeating it in the Second World War. After this time, the Americans used their influence to help Japan successfully adopt a market economy. It also propped up Japan’s industries and manufacturing capacity by using it as a source of the much-needed military and industrial supplies for South Korea. Japan and South Korea therefore took up Government and economic structures that were much more similar. North Korea tried hard to establish good relations with Japan, with japan trying to accommodate these attempts. However, through a treaty in 1965, Japan recognized South Korea as the appropriate representative and government of the entireKorean peninsula. This was a major blow to relations with the north and it has defined their relations to this day.

The south on the other hand has worked with the Japanese on many occasions. Their Governance structures and economies take a much more similar structure and this is why working together has been easier. The militaristic history of Japan has however not been forgotten and it has always been a source of conflict and hatred between Japanese and Korean nationalists. This has not however deterred the cultural exchange between the two nations that has taken place for long, to date. Japan continues to import and consume South Korean cultural exports like pop music, television shows and films. The two also collaborate on major projects for instance the FIFA world cup co-hosting in 2002.


Chua, B. (2008). East Asian pop culture analysing the Korean wave. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press ;.

Fuccello, C. (1997). South Korean-Japanese relations in the cold war: A journey to normalization.New York: Fuccello.

Hoare, J. (2012). Historical dictionary of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press.

Hwang, K. (2010). A history of Korea: An episodic narrative. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Mason, R. (2010). Japan’s relations with North Korea and the recalibration of risk.

Turnbull, S., & Dennis, P. (2008). The Samurai invasion of Korea, 1592-98.Oxford, UK: Osprey Pub.