Rear Vision, Japan, Korea, Tensions, Comfort Women, Colonialism, Legacy, Trade War

Rear Vision, Japan

The brutal history fuelling a bitter trade war between two Asian powerhouses

The brutal history fuelling a bitter trade war between two Asian powerhouses

15/09/2019 11:56:00 PM

The brutal history fuelling a bitter trade war between two Asian powerhouses

While we've all been focused on the escalating tension between the US and China, another economic spat has been bubbling away.

Those companies include Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, one of the world's largest conglomerates."The South Korean court ruled in favour of three elderly plaintiffs, and the court awarded roughly $80,000 in compensation," Professor Dudden says.

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She points out that that's a drop in the bucket —"a weekend at a golf tournament" — for these companies."So we are not talking about breaking the industry," she says.Professor Brazinsky says for most Koreans, it's not about money.

"They want some acknowledgement of their suffering — from both the South Korean government and from Japan, and from the Japanese companies that inflicted this," he says.But in response to the court ruling, Japanese government and business collectively pointed to the past.

"[They said] 'No, 1965 settled all that'," Professor Dudden says.South Korean lawyers then moved to seize the assets of Japanese firms affected by the ruling.Japan responded by removing South Korea from its white list of most favoured trading nations.

South Koreans citizens responded by refusing to buy Japanese goods, and protesting.Rear Vision puts contemporary events in their historical context, answering the question:"How did it come to this?""Japan claims that its decision to remove South Korea from the white list of most favoured economic partners is related to security concerns, but I haven't seen any credible evidence of that," Professor Brazinsky says.

"I think the timing of these decisions to start retaliating against South Korea economically is of course very suspicious because it comes right on the heels of these decisions by the South Korean courts."Professor Dudden agrees the current trade war has"nothing to do with economics and security".

"This has everything to do with differing positions over how to interpret the history of pre-1945 Japan and Korea relations, which unfortunately in of themselves have become security threats in an already volatile environment," she says.What will prove the salve this time around remains to be seen.

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