October 8 will mark the 20th anniversary of a declaration between Japan and South Korea to “squarely face the past and develop relations based on mutual understanding and trust.” This month, the foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea agreed to strengthen bilateral relations in recognition of this anniversary. Japan will even convene a panel of experts to discuss specific methods of improving relations, from people-to-people exchanges to diplomacy.
The panel is an excellent idea that might yield new opportunities to mend the rift between Japan and South Korea. About 51% of Koreans and 46% of Japanese have a bad impression of the other country, according to a 2018 survey by Genron NPO. Not great, but it’s actually a huge improvement on the Korean side – back in 2013, 77% of Koreans had a negative view of Japan. The reasons for the bad feelings focus mostly on historical and territorial issues, which should be a clear signal to the panel in Japan, and any South Korean counterparts that might form, where the most effort in improving relations is needed.
This article was originally published by Inkstick on July 25, 2018. Read the full article here.