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This volume examines Japanese and Korean politics from both Japanese and Korean angles, exploring why the two countries do not cooperate bilaterally or consult one another, despite their geographical closeness and a number of common features that are central to both countries' domestic politics and foreign policies.



Introduction: Are Japan and Korea Alone and Apart from Each Other?

Introduction: Are Japan and Korea Alone and Apart from Each Other?

The aim of this volume is to examine the domestic politics and foreign policy of two countries that look alone and are apart from each other. The picture of the trilateral meeting among President Barack Obama of the United States, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo of Japan, and President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea, which took place at The Hague in April 2014, vividly exposed Japan and South Korea as being alone and apart from each other even when they are geographically close. Obama was sandwiched by Abe and Park. Prodded, both Abe and Park spoke. Abe started in Korean, looking at Park. Abe’s Korean is elementary, but he apparently wanted to ease the tension derived from the long nonmeeting of the two leaders by speaking in the other’s language. Park did not look at him. Instead, she apparently remained intent on listening to the translation. Although Abe’s Korean was neither intolerable nor incomprehensible, she apparently wanted to avoid something. The two leaders were alone and apart from each other.
Takashi Inoguchi

Japanese Politics


1. Abenomics and Abegeopolitics

On December 26, 2012, a general election took place in Japan. The outcomes were astounding. As Takashi Inoguchi1 describes in his year-end article for 2012, the voters “swing, and then swing away soon.” It was in 2005 that the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), then the major governing party, won a dramatic electoral victory. During the couple of months in 2005 after Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro’s triumphant victory and the couple of months in 2006 before his resignation from the prime ministership and politics, he held a garden party in Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo where his keynote speech reiterated a poem of Hosokawa Galasha, a sixteenth-century Christian wife of a feudal lord. She was besieged by her husband’s rivals in his absence and committed suicide after composing and singing a poem2:
Like the sakura (cherry blossom), which knows when to bloom and when to fall, men become men only when they know when they should put an end to their life.
Takashi Inoguchi

2. Expansionary Monetary Policy Revised

On April 4, 2013, Kuroda Haruhiko, the newly appointed governor of the Bank of Japan (BOJ), decided during a meeting of the BOJ’s Monetary Policy Committee to double the monetary base—which is the sum of cash in circulation, BOJ reserves, and money that BOJ can directly control—from 138 trillion yen at the end of 2012 to 200 trillion yen at the end of 2013 and to 270 trillion yen at the end of 2014 in order to realize a 2 percent inflation target. The governor noted that this will enable Japan to overcome 15 years of deflation.
Yutaka Harada

3. Return to the Liberal Democratic Party Dominance?

Japanese party politics shows a pattern of instability and fluidity particularly after mid-2000s. It is undoubtedly unstable: there have been changes of the ruling party and cabinet shuffles are frequent.
Cheol Hee Park

4. Japanese Realignments and Impacting Korean-Japanese Relations

The political realignments and regime changes, which took place in Japan in 2009 and 2012, have been one of the most important variables for its foreign policy, in general, and South Korean policy, in particular. On its inauguration, the leadership of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) embarked on a set of ambitious policies to change Asian diplomacy under the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). By pronouncing the concept of an East Asian Community with South Korea and China as its core partners, the Hatoyama Yukio cabinet, the first DPJ administration, did not conceal its intention to redress the alleged diplomatic imbalance heavily tilting toward the United States. The succeeding Kan Naoto cabinet even made unprecedented efforts to push ahead with historical reconciliation with Seoul that had lost its momentum during Roh Moo-hyun and Koizumi Junichiro era, while the Noda Yoshihiko cabinet came very close to a final signature for the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), supposedly the first military agreement between the two US allies. Domestic and international conditions were not unfavorable for the policy change. The South Korean Lee Myung-bak government was trying to keep an accommodative approach toward Japan in spite of growing domestic pressures.
Seung-won Suh

Korean Politics


5. South Korea’s 2012 Presidential Election

Elections provide voters not only with an opportunity to decide who will govern the country but also with a chance to express how they view politics as a whole. Just before the 2012 presidential election it appeared that Korean party politics was at the crossroads as public dissatisfaction with the existing party politics was prevalent. Many people wanted an extensive transformation of politics, and some hoped for the possibility of “new politics.”
Won-Taek Kang

6. Transformation of Korean Developmental Capitalism

When Park Geun-hye took office on February 25, 2013, she gave an unusual speech, unusual in that she used her inaugural to declare the beginning of “a new model of capitalism” for her country. It is one thing for a new president to offer his or her economic vision, goals, and action plans, but it is another to call for a sweeping reorientation of national political economy.
Jongryn Mo

7. Park Geun-hye Administration’s Policies toward North Korea and Beyond

Today, people in East Asia are living in an age of ressentiment. Ressentiment is one of the forms of resentment or hostility against the stronger party in a relationship. Søren Kierkegaard, a nineteenthcentury philosopher, first used this term, and then Friedrich Nietzsche expanded on the concept and made it popular in his 1887 book On the Genealogy of Morality. This term is deeply connected to the concept of master-slave morality, which forms the fundamental morality types found in Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morality.
Satoru Miyamoto

8. Korean Parliamentary Politics

When Japan faced unprecedented and multi-dimensional challenges as those posed by the recovery from the devastations of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami, followed by the subsequent meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, both the leadership style of then prime minister Kan Naoto and the governability of the then ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) were put into question. The main opposition at that time, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), called for the immediate resignation of Kan and the dissolution of the House of Representatives (HR), Shugiin, and maintained that the change of a ruling party by a general election was the only way to restore urgent leadership and governability. Was the indecisiveness in crisis management attributable to qualifications of a particular politician and a lack of experience of the ruling party who had come to power a year and a half before the national disaster? Was it resolved by the replacement of the top leader in power by Abe Shinzo whose LDP swept the general election in December 2012? Or, was the indecisiveness in crisis management more structural in the sense that regardless of who is prime minister, or which party is in government, the same challenges exist? In this chapter, we argue that the continued political immobility of Japan for the last few years was a result of the constitutional crisis caused by a bicameral parliamentary system with a strong upper house.
Yuki Asaba

Foreign Policy: Japan and Korea


9. Japanese Foreign Policy: Abe II and Beyond: With a Future Perspective of Japan-Korea Relations

Abe Shinzo’s electoral victory in the House of Representatives in December 2012 and in the House of Councillors in July 2013 and its implications on Japanese politics is not easy to analyze. After the long reign of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) (1955–1993), Japanese politicians have been trying to establish a stable two-party system since the start of the 1990s. But the failure of three years of governance by the Japan Democratic Party (JDP) and the total disarray of opposition parties in summer 2013 led Abe to a new situation, at least allowing him to stop the one-year revolving door of prime ministers and possibly making him a prime minister for a few years or even longer, unless some catastrophic errors are committed either on the economy or on politics.
Kazuhiko Togo

10. Korean Foreign Policy: Park Geun-hye Looks at China and North Korea

Park Guen-hye was inaugurated as the eighteenth president of the Republic of Korea (ROK) on February 25, 2013, winning 51.6 percent of votes in the December 2012 presidential election. During the presidential campaign, Park pledged to change the foreign and North Korean policies of her predecessor Lee Myung-bak after realizing their limitations and failures. As with the Lee government, she emphasized the importance of maintaining credible deterrence against the North through the US strategic alliance. However, she proposed trustpolitik as the new benchmark for her foreign policy, which is essentially the process of trust-building on the Korean Peninsula and the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative, often referred to as the Seoul Process. Whereas the former aimed at improving inter-Korean relations through exchange and cooperation, and confidence-building measures (CBMs) in the political and military arenas, the latter attempts to shape a new regional environment in Northeast Asia by fostering cooperation in nontraditional security issues.
Chung-In Moon, Seung-Chan Boo

11. The Korean Peninsula and Japan: Global Money Flows as Framing International Relations

In 2011–2013 leadership change occurred in Japan, South Korea, and North Korea1 That change in leadership in these three countries, around the same time, is not something that domestic factors alone can explain. The most notable event is the 2008 collapse of the economic bubble in the United States, which followed a militarily aggressive and financially extravagant unipolar and unilateral period led by George W. Bush, Jr. Also, one cannot forget that quasiausterity had continued in Japan since 1991 when its own bubble collapsed. The exchange rate of Japanese yen increased steadily as world investors/speculators searched for safe currencies—the Japanese yen and Swiss franc. Japan continued to register a low-growth rate for all these years. South Korea overcame what South Korea calls the IMF crisis in 1997–1998 and enjoyed a currency rate that facilitated Korean exports en masse. North Korea continues its austerity policy since well before 2008. The US government under President Barack Obama and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke adopted a policy of quantitative easing of money, a large bulk of which investors/speculators diffused to what are now called emerging economies, BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), MIST (Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, and Turkey), and the rest.
Takashi Inoguchi


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