The Japan–South Korea Identity Clash: East Asian Security and the United States

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Columbia University Press, May 26, 2015 - Political Science - 224 pages

Japan and South Korea are Western-style democracies with open-market economies committed to the rule of law. They are also U.S. allies. Yet despite their shared interests, shared values, and geographic proximity, divergent national identities have driven a wedge between them. Drawing on decades of expertise, Brad Glosserman and Scott A. Snyder investigate the roots of this split and its ongoing threat to the region and the world.

Glosserman and Snyder isolate competing notions of national identity as the main obstacle to a productive partnership between Japan and South Korea. Through public opinion data, interviews, and years of observation, they show how fundamentally incompatible, rapidly changing conceptions of national identity in Japan and South Korea—and not struggles over power or structural issues—have complicated territorial claims and international policy. Despite changes in the governments of both countries and concerted efforts by leading political figures to encourage U.S.–ROK–Japan security cooperation, the Japan–South Korea relationship continues to be hobbled by history and its deep imprint on ideas of national identity. This book recommends bold, policy-oriented prescriptions for overcoming problems in Japan–South Korea relations and facilitating trilateral cooperation among these three Northeast Asian allies, recognizing the power of the public on issues of foreign policy, international relations, and the prospects for peace in Asia.



1 The JapanSouth Korea Divide
2 Japans Identity Crisis
3 South Koreas Growing Confidence
4 Convergence and Alienation in JapanSouth Korea Relations
5 Implications for Alliance Management
6 Reinvigorating Trilateralism
About the Authors

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About the author (2015)

Brad Glosserman is the executive director of the Pacific Forum, an independent program of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Scott A. Snyder is senior fellow for Korea studies and director of the program on U.S.–Korea policy at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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