Thursday, April 22, 2010

Japan and Friends: Foreign Relations

The Editor-in-Chief of the Asahi Shinbun in Tokyo,Yoichi Funabashi, published an article for East Asia Forum called Japan-Korea FTA cornerstone of the East Asian Community, which makes several valid points. One example:

"A Japan-South Korea FTA would be instrumental in pushing for a further opening of the global trade system. It would also help Asian regional integration. Integrating the markets of the closest neighbors in Asia will become the cornerstone of the East Asia community."

Japan Society held a panel discussion on April 20th entitled The Japan – China – US Triangle: Competing Partners, which discussed the obstacles in navigating mergers and other alliances among China, Japan and the U.S. due to the nations' completely divergent cultures, histories, and legal systems. Japan and South Korea likely face many of the same issues thanks to their difficult history with one another. To quote from Funabashi's piece:

"During a visit to South Korea in March, farm minister Hirotaka Akamatsu was told by Yu Myung-hwan, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, that since this is the 100th anniversary of Japan’s annexation of Korea, many South Koreans consider it to be a ‘year of humiliation.’ Yu urged caution, noting that emotions were again running high over the territorial issue."

The relationship betweem these two nations is one that will spell out the future of East Asia's relations not only in trade but in cultural respect. It's a relationship that will be worth watching in the coming years, especially as China's economy pulls ahead of Japan's.

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