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  • Author: Ji-Young Lee, David C. Kang
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Relations between Japan and the two Koreas were relatively uneventful in the final quarter of 2009. The new Hatoyama government quickly began to show more attention to its relations with its East Asian neighbors and hinted at a small change in priorities with respect to North Korea. South Korea and Japan said mostly all the right things, even while substantively it seemed fairly clear that they continued to have very different opinions about territorial and historical disputes. However, no real movement or dramatic changes came about during the quarter, setting the stage for 2010 – the 100th “anniversary” of Japan's annexation of Korea.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Japan, East Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Ji-Young Lee, David C. Kang
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Korea-Japan relations have foundered over territorial and historical disputes for quite some time. Indeed, much of this quarter's report could have been written in 2004, or perhaps even earlier. Yet, we dutifully report the Japanese government's latest claim, the South Korean government's latest protest against that claim, and so on, while also reporting the increasing trade, travel, and institutional relations between the two countries. Which leads to a question: how consequential are these territorial disputes? The mere fact that Japanese and Koreans think they are important enough to alter textbooks and put claims on the Foreign Ministry website makes them consequential. However, do these claims have an impact on the other military, diplomatic, or economic affairs in the region? One could make an argument that despite the sturm und drang over who owns Dokdo/Takeshima, those affairs have not yet led to different policies in other areas, and certainly nobody thinks the territorial disputes might lead to actual war. This is not the place to discuss that question in depth, but it is one of the more intriguing questions that occurs to us as we, yet again, write about the same issues.
  • Topic: Government, War
  • Political Geography: South Korea, Korea
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Japan, South Korea, Korea
  • Author: Aidan Foster-Carter
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The past quarter in inter-Korean relations might be called the morning after the night before. Tensions over the sunken ROK corvette Cheonan by no means disappeared; the less so since North Korea still denied responsibility, while the South smarted at its failure to convince key powers – China and Russia above all – of Pyongyang‟s culpability. The Cheonan incident remains a crime and an obstacle. Yet hopeful signs are emerging that both sides realize they will have to get past this eventually and that they might as well start now. Among various small initiatives, including flood aid, the quarter ended on a hopeful note with an agreement to hold a fresh round of reunions of separated families in late October.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: David C. Kang
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The two highlights in Japan-Korea relations during this quarter are Prime Minister Kan Naoto‟s apology to South Korea for Japan‟s colonial rule, and the appointment of Kim Jong-un, as vice chairman of the Workers‟ Party Central Military Commission and military general in the Korean People‟s Army. While these developments hold the promise to potentially change the security landscape of Northeast Asia, Prime Minister Kan‟s first full quarter in office reveals that Japan‟s North Korea policy is likely to continue along the lines of previous Japanese administrations, at least for now: an unfavorable attitude coupled with hostility and inaction. Pyongyang‟s attitude toward Tokyo, too, changed little and remained more or less predictable – it denounced Prime Minister Kan for apologizing only to South Korea, criticized Japan for “shamelessly” wanting a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, and demanded compensation for all of Japan‟s past wrongdoings. Japan-South Korea relations appear to be moving closer, although whether Kan‟s apology will truly change anything remains to be seen. Japan keeping a watchful eye on North Korea‟s succession At the quarter‟s end, the Japanese government remained noncommittal but is apparently paying close attention to the North Korea‟s power transition dynamics for signs of whether there is any possible impact on the North‟s stance on either the abduction issue or its nuclear and missile programs. The Japanese media closely followed news about Kim Jong-un‟s appointment as a vice chairman of the Central Military Commission in the Workers‟ Party, which took place a day before the party‟s conference selecting “supreme leadership body.” With no prior military title, little is known about Kim Jong-un, but his new position means that he is responsible for directing North Korea‟s army and for formulating the party‟s military policies. Along with Kim Jong-il‟s sister Kim Kyong-hui‟s promotion to a Central Committee‟s Political Bureau member and her husband Jang Song-taek‟s nomination to the number two position on the National Defense Commission, it appears that a hereditary power transfer may be underway in Pyongyang. The Japanese government made no immediate official comment, but Prime Minister Kan said on Sept. 28 that Japan will “carefully monitor the situation inside North Korea.”
  • Topic: Security, Government
  • Political Geography: Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Tokyo, Korea, Pyongyang
  • Author: Aidan Foster-Career
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The final three months of 2008 saw relations between the two Koreas continue to worsen, as they had since South Korean voters in December 2007 elected the conservative Lee Myung-bak as their next president, ending a decade of rule by liberals. Official ties remained frozen as Pyongyang media continued to heap childish insults on Lee. Upping the ante from words to deeds, but also shooting itself in the foot, from December the North placed restrictions on cross-border traffic and expelled most Southerners from the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), just north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). But the end of the year brought a possible way forward, with hints from both sides that they are considering a deal where the South would pay for the release of abductees and prisoners of war held by the North. It remains to be seen whether this will fly or how soon the two Koreas can tone down the enmity stoked over the past year. Meanwhile, nongovernmental interaction continues, albeit on a far smaller scale than during the former “Sunshine” policy.
  • Topic: Government, Communications
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Ralph A. Cossa, Brad Glosserman
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's choice of Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, and China for her first official trip overseas helped shine a spotlight on Asia as a high priority region this quarter, as did North Korean Dear Leader Kim Jong-il's announcement that he intended to conduct a satellite launch in early April. The drama surrounding the anticipated launch provided an unfortunate back drop for otherwise very positive pronouncements about intended Obama administration policies in East Asia, even if the quarter closed with only a handful of those eventually to be tasked with implementing these policies at their desks. ASEAN leaders finally held their postponed summit and celebrated the entry into force of their much-maligned Charter. Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visited Washington to underscore that the U.S. and Australia are still “mates,” even as his reluctance to send more combat forces to Afghanistan foreshadowed the difficulty President Obama faces in getting allies to sign up for his “surge” there. Finally, economic forecasts kept being adjusted downward as Asian leaders prepared for the G20 summit in London in hopes that this would bring a turnaround.
  • Topic: Security, Government, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Japan, China, Indonesia, Asia, South Korea, London, Australia
  • Author: Aidan Foster-Carter
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Looking back, it was a hostage to fortune to title our last quarterly review: “Things can only get better?” Even with that equivocating final question mark, this was too optimistic a take on relations between the two Koreas – which, as it turned out, not only failed to improve but deteriorated further in the first months of 2009. Nor was that an isolated trend. This was a quarter when a single event – or more exactly, the expectation of an event – dominated the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia more widely. Suspected since January, announced in February and awaited throughout March, despite all efforts to dissuade it North Korea's long-anticipated Taepodong launched on April 5. This too evoked a broader context, and a seeming shift in Pyongyang. Even by the DPRK's unfathomable logic, firing a big rocket – satellite or no – seemed a rude and perverse way to greet a new U.S. president avowedly committed to engagement with Washington's foes. Yet, no fewer than four separate senior private U.S. delegations, visiting Pyongyang in unusually swift succession during the past quarter, heard the same uncompromising message. Even veteran visitors who fancied they had good contacts found the usual access denied and their hosts tough-minded: apparently just not interested in an opportunity for a fresh start offered by a radically different incumbent of the White House.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, South Korea, North Korea, Pyongyang
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, United Nations
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea