Japan - Korea

May — Aug 2013
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No Signs of Improvement over the Summer

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David Kang
University of Southern California
Jiun Bang
University of Southern California

South Korea-Japan relations have been frozen for some time and despite the summer heat, no thaw appears likely anytime soon. Although economic interactions continue to deepen between the two countries, and although there is a clear desire – and even a need – to coordinate policies toward North Korea and China, the two countries appear more focused on other issues as their main foreign policy priorities in the short-term. The two recently elected leaders have yet to meet for a summit, a sign that even a symbolic attempt to repair relations is proving difficult. Japanese Prime Minister Abe has grown stronger with a rousing Liberal Democratic Party victory in Upper House elections, yet a number of rhetorical controversies kept attention focused on Abe’s foreign policy, particularly toward Korea and China. To date not much has changed and there is little evidence that either Seoul or Tokyo desires improved relations.

South Korea-Japan relations have been frozen for some time and despite the summer heat, no thaw appears likely anytime soon. Although economic interactions continue to deepen between the two countries, and although there is a clear desire – and even a need – to coordinate policies toward North Korea and China, the two countries appear more focused on other issues as their main foreign policy priorities in the short-term. The two recently elected leaders have yet to meet for a summit, a sign that even a symbolic attempt to repair relations is proving difficult. Japanese Prime Minister Abe has grown stronger with a rousing Liberal Democratic Party victory in Upper House elections, yet a number of rhetorical controversies kept attention focused on Abe’s foreign policy, particularly toward Korea and China. To date not much has changed and there is little evidence that either Seoul or Tokyo desires improved relations.

Aberrations of diplomacy and persona non-grata

It is not easy to come by another set of bilateral relations that are as easily identifiable through a few loaded phrases or “codewords” as is the case of Japan and South Korea (i.e., Dokdo/Takeshima, comfort women/sex slaves, and Yasukuni Shrine). The unfortunate by-product of knowing the exact pressure points for both Tokyo and Seoul is that bilateral ties have been issue-driven rather than relationship-driven. This means that diplomacy has become less about negotiating and more about campaigning or championing one’s cause: a mutually executed unilateral exercise rather than a bilateral affair. The first example of what we will call “aberrations of diplomacy” is that each state increasingly leverages third parties to indirectly influence the other. South Korea’s actions during the summer months were a particularly apt example as it appealed to the larger international community for its cause against Japan. Inevitably, this has meant that the United States has become involved, despite its formal policy of not taking sides in any of the disputes between the two countries.

In the first notable instance, Seoul progressively looked to the US as a platform for pressuring Japan on a number of contentious issues ranging from the naming of the body of water between Japan and Korea (East Sea vs. Sea of Japan) to erecting so-called “comfort women statues.” On the naming controversy, the intention by local politicians in the US state of Virginia to introduce legislation to require future textbooks approved by the Virginia Board of Education to concurrently use both East Sea and Sea of Japan made big news in Korea. According to a Yonhap report, Tim Hugo, the chairman of the Virginia House Republican Caucus, announced that he would introduce such a bill, stating that “Academically, it is important to acknowledge that this dispute exists between these countries. Unfortunately, current Virginia textbooks make no reference to the ongoing dispute between two countries regarding the naming of this body of water.” The report further quotes Hugo from a press release: “It is not right that their position on this issue be ignored,” with “their” referring to the more than 2.5 million Korean-Americans in the US as well as the roughly 150,000 residing within Virginia. Although the Voice of Korean Americans (VoKA) – whose objective is to introduce the “East Sea” label to all textbooks within the 50 US states by March 2017 in time for the International Hydrographic Organization meeting to discuss the formal adoption in international maps – may have unconditionally welcomed the latest development, the direct reference to Korean-American voters invites caution, especially given the predisposition of politicians to be “office-seeking.” The reality is that there has already been a similar attempt to introduce such a bill back in January 2012 (Senate Bill No. 200) by Sen. Dave Marsden to the Virginia General Assembly. The bill was voted down 7-8 (five Democrats and two Republicans for yay, six Republicans and two Democrats for nay), which brings up the fascinating question of how political partisanship works on issues that are at first light, seemingly beyond the boundaries of the US.

Another event occurred in August when a comfort women memorial was unveiled in Glendale, California. The bronze statue is a replica of the one erected in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul in 2011, and the timing could not have been more fortuitous: it marked the sixth anniversary of the passage of a resolution by US House of Representatives, which urges the Japanese government to “formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Forces’ coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as ‘comfort women,’ during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II.” Incidentally, back in May, the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR) released a response to Japan’s periodic reports to the UN body by suggesting that Tokyo “take all necessary measures to address the lasting effects of the exploitation and to guarantee the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights by comfort women,” as well as to “educate the public … so as to prevent hate speech and other manifestations that stigmatize them.” Therefore, by the time the statue had been revealed in Glendale in August, the issue had already been drummed-up within international society. Asashi Shimbun noted both the displeasure of the Tokyo government, but also the sentiments of Japanese-Americans – Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress – which expressed a more positive response to the matter. This type of multi-dimensional reporting is a welcome balance to the more sensationalist stories that sometimes decorate Japan-Korea relations, but for the home government, the activities of its immigrant communities represent another intricacy of diplomacy.

A second, more pernicious “aberration of diplomacy” is that diplomatic channels become simple signaling mechanisms that punish the other party and stymie dialogue, rather than open channels for communication. Becoming introverted and allowing for as little contact as possible with the other party, either signals displeasure at something or denies/robs the other party of the opportunity to engage in frank discussions and make progress. Sadly, this phenomenon has meant that diplomatic channels have been used to subvert interaction. After the new administration in Seoul took office, there was already much talk as to what it meant for President Park to “bypass” Japan by holding summits with US President Barack Obama and China’s Xi Jinping, given the past custom to meet Japan’s prime minister following a visit to Washington. Of course, limiting dialogue can also be akin to dangling the prospects of a future summit like a carrot. For example, despite media reports of multiple overtures from Japan on a Japan-Korea summit (e.g., a proposal delivered on Aug. 19 by Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio to Ambassador Lee Byung-kee and Abe’s calls in late August for a renewed effort with its neighbors and a potential meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in September), the response from Seoul was curt and cold. Although it is unclear if South Korea’s holding out on talks is seen as strategic leverage against Japan or a signal of its displeasure with Japan’s latest behavior, the fact remained that there was no face-to-face meeting between Park and Abe after several months in office.

As further testament to the general mood, much of the interaction between Japan and Korea occurred on the sidelines of other major events. The first meeting between Japan’s Foreign Minister Kishida and South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se took place in June on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers Meeting in Brunei, and lasted approximately 30 minutes. In early June, the defense ministers of Japan, the US, and South Korea met on the margins of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. Although the focus was on trilateral cooperation and collaboration to deter North Korea’s nuclear and missile developments as well as provocations, Japanese media reported that Japanese Defense Minister Onodera Itsunori told reporters after the meeting that Tokyo and Seoul had agreed to go ahead with discussions concerning the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) – talks that abruptly collapsed in June 2012 when South Korea refused to sign the agreement. Nevertheless, the coolness was palpable, especially by late July when Japan’s Kyodo News reported that Seoul intentionally did not invite (“snubbed”) Japanese officials to its ceremony to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice. Not even a new building for the South Korean Embassy in Tokyo (which opened in mid-July) could sweeten political relations between the two countries.

This souring of bilateral relations had another toxic implication for both Japan and Korea. Generally speaking, when it comes to personalities with a trace of Korean blood, Korea is quick to claim them as one of their own [think Hines Ward, former wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League], but also just as easily it will designate them as “persona non grata.” In the latter category lies Oh Seon-hwa, an ethnic Korean (but naturalized Japanese citizen) who is a professor at Takushoku University. A Japan Times article covered Oh’s ordeal with the Korean immigration officials, when she was apparently denied entry into Korea and sent back to Japan on July 27. Afterward, she claimed that “This [being denied entry] cannot happen in a democratic, civilized modern country.” The Korean media showed Oh no mercy, with some netizens going so far as to peg Oh as the contemporary equivalent to Lee Wan-yong – a pro-Japanese minister of Korea who signed the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty placing Korea under Japanese colonial rule in 1910.

In Japan, well-known Japanese film director, Miyazaki Hayao, became the target of accusations that he was “anti-Japanese” and a “traitor.” Foreign Policy (FP) ran a blog post (“Japanese Nationalists Attack Animation Master’s New Film”) on July 23, 2013, which discussed the reception of Miyazaki’s new film, ‘The Wind Rises’ (Kaze Tachinu), as well as comments by the director in a recent interview that touched on controversies ranging from comfort women/sex slaves to territorial disputes. For instance, Miyazaki was reported as saying that a proper apology and reparations should be given on the comfort women issue and suggesting possible joint control of the disputed territory between Japan and Korea. Admittedly, it is unfair to place Miyazaki side-by-side with Oh Seon-hwa, with the former having established a much greater level of initial traction and popularity, but this may also mean that for some of his fans, the accusations may have been that much more abhorrent or eye-opening (depending on one’s political views).

One sign that politics has begun to affect economic relations between the two countries was the lapsing of a bilateral currency swap contract in July. Currency swaps – designed to help countries avoid some of the issues that led to the 1997 Asian financial crisis – have proliferated across Asia in recent years; the most notable is the Chiang Mai Initiative. The Asahi Shimbun noted that “the overall size of the bilateral currency swap deal will decrease to $10 billion from $70 billion in one year.” Although both governments claimed that an improving economic situation was the reason for the lapsing of the contract, there was a great deal of speculation that tension between the two countries was the real cause.

Changing domestic politics in Japan?

Political scientists are wary of using a single political spectrum in evaluating the political environment of countries. Thus, the labels “left” and “right” are fluid and do not necessarily mean the same thing in different contexts. At least for the months of May to August, the Korean media used a rather limited spectrum consisting of “right” and “ultra-right” in describing the Abe administration and its stance on particular policies. This sentiment was captured in the renewed concern about a revived militarism in Japan, the repeated usage of the prefix “ultra” in describing rightist tendencies, and the extensive coverage of verbal gaffes by politicians in Tokyo.

Several developments stirred fears in South Korea of renewed militarism on the part of Japan. The first concerned statements by Prime Minister Abe of his intent to revise the Japanese constitution – one of the targets is Article 9, which prohibits Japan from maintaining a military force. The logic is that by softening the language that binds Japan to refrain from the use of force rather than prohibit the military in its entirety, Japan can better fulfill its obligations under collective security agreements and operate more efficiently within the UN framework. Any logic behind such intent, however, was most likely lost in its delivery. In a speech to local supporters in the city of Nagato, Yamaguchi prefecture on Aug 12, Prime Minister Abe referred to the task of constitutional revision as his “historic mission.” This statement was consistent with earlier reports that claimed Abe had told an aide during the final phases of campaigning for the Upper House elections in July (where his Liberal Democratic Party quenched an overwhelming victory) that, “We cannot revise the Constitution in a few years … we have to spend about six years.” A clear vision combined with a sense of purpose is not typically a vice of leaders, but unsettling a norm that has already been established for Japan’s “pacifist constitution” (and the “peace clause”) was perceived as highly provocative, especially in the eyes of Japan’s close neighbors.

Fueling even greater suspicion was Abe’s speech on Aug. 15 on the anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, which drew much attention for its omission of the country’s remorse for its past aggression, breaking a 20-year tradition of doing so. Given the heightened tensions with Seoul also holding its own ceremony to commemorate its liberation from Japanese colonial rule, the Korean media was quick in spotting the omission and equated it to Abe bidding farewell to his last bit of conscience. Another popular Korean media tactic was to run the story of Germany’s Angela Merkel’s visit to the Dachau concentration camp memorial on Aug. 20 – a first by an acting German chancellor to the notorious Nazi concentration camp – to further “expose” the “immorality” of Prime Minister Abe.

If what was not said got Abe intro trouble, other Japanese officials were singled out for what was said, and said very poorly. There were multiple notable verbal gaffes, starting with Osaka Mayor Hashimoto Toru’s remarks on May 13: “When soldiers are risking their lives by running through storms of bullets, and you want to give these emotionally charged soldiers a rest somewhere, it’s clear that you need a comfort-women system … anyone can understand that.” This statement was construed as retroactively justifying Japan’s actions and the necessity for prostitution, which triggered indignation from South Korea. Amidst growing anger from the international community, Hashimoto did half-heartedly apologize, although his apology was mostly targeted at placating the US for other comments he made suggesting that US troops should utilize the adult entertainment businesses as a way to reduce sex crimes. On the “comfort women” issue, it was clear that the Osaka mayor was underscoring not only the circumstances as the organizing force behind Japan’s use of brothels during the war, but also denying any intentional or systematic recruitment of the women on the part of the Japanese government that would suggest a different level of culpability. Combined with the appointment of Sakaiya Taichi as an adviser to Abe’s administration – the man credited with pushing for Hashimoto to join the world of politics – the Tokyo government in the eyes of Seoul seemed to swing even further toward the right.

The second blunder came from Japanese politician Suzuki Nobuyuki, and was less a gaffe and more of intentional drumbeating given his well-established status as a nationalist even within Japan. Suzuki (unsuccessfully) ran as a candidate for the Tokyo Metropolitan District seat in the July 21 House of Councillors election, but his consistently xenophobic campaign slogans promoting the severance of diplomatic relations between Japan and Korea further widened the rift between the two countries. Back in 2012, Suzuki had tied a wooden stake to the “comfort women” statue erected in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul. According to Korean reports, he was issued a subpoena by the Korean Justice Department along with three trial dates set for September and October.

A third unhelpful incident began in late July, by which time even the most flattering statement by either Japan or Korea about its respective partner could probably not save bilateral political relations. Japan’s Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Aso Taro, during a discussion with a conservative study group about ways to achieve constitutional revision, claimed that Japan should look at how Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party had changed the constitution of the Weimer Republic “without anyone noticing.” Perhaps Japan could “learn from their techniques.” Faced with increasing criticism from within Japan and abroad that the remarks were glorifying this behavior and distorting what was actually a violent takeover by the Nazis, Aso retracted his initial statement but strongly denied any possibility of resigning over the incident, claiming that he was simply “misunderstood.”

These episodes could impact internal political struggles within Japan – especially considering the cast of characters that includes strong antagonists and protagonists. Opposition leaders such as Secretary General of the Democratic Party Ohata Akihiro and Secretary General of the Social Democratic Party Mataichi Seiji both faulted Aso for his grave blunder. Kono Yohei, former head of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and viewed by many to represent the more moderate camp in Japanese politics, has stated that the frequent remarks by Japanese politicians that are seemingly at odds with Japan’s official apologies serve to erode international trust in Japan. If any of these personalities can actually expand the political spectrum within Japan, is of course, another story.

There were mixed indications of the general public sentiment in Japan toward their supposed swing to the right. Although vivid, such incidents probably do not reflect the feelings of the majority of Japanese. For example, a Mainichi Shimbun opinion poll found that 71 percent of Japanese found Mayor Hashimoto’s comments about the necessity for comfort women to be “inappropriate,” while an Asahi Shimbun poll found 75 percent of respondents deemed his comments inappropriate. Another measure of Japanese public sentiment was the results of a Pew Research poll that was released in July. It indicated that 71 percent of the Japanese public viewed Prime Minister Abe in a favorable light. The more suggestive question involved capturing the Japanese public and their views toward constitutional revision, with a majority still opposed to changing the constitution (56 percent). Nevertheless, it was clear that although active support for reform may not be forthcoming, active opposition to change was eroding, with those opposed having declined by 11 percentage points since 2006 from 67 percent to 56 percent in 2013.

Other attempts to find out what Japanese think about some of the issues in Japan’s foreign relations shed less light than might be expected. For example, the Asahi Shimbun reported in August that a Cabinet Office survey found that “Only 63.1 percent of Japanese are aware that South Korea is ‘unlawfully’ occupying Takeshima.” In reporting the results, the Wall Street Journal pointed out that “The survey, however, may be more telling in the way it was conducted and its wording than what the numbers show … Before getting on with the questions, researchers were required to ask respondents to read a lengthy historical explanation on how the islets belong to Japan.”

“The left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing…”

It is not entirely surprising that there was a lack of coordination between Japan and Korea in policies toward North Korea. In May, Prime Minister Abe sent his special Cabinet adviser, Iijima Isao, on an unannounced visit to Pyongyang to discuss the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea. According to reports by the Japanese media, Iijima, who had also served as an adviser to former Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro and visited Pyongyang before, apparently met Kim Yong Nam, chairman of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly, to relay Abe’s desire to restart talks on returning Japanese abductees. In reaction to Japan’s efforts to establish its own lines of communications with Pyongyang, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson issued a statement that Iijima’s visit to Pyongyang was “not helpful,” and voicing regret for not having been informed earlier about the visit. Kyodo News subsequently reported that Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide indicated that future negotiations with Pyongyang would be led by the Foreign Ministry rather than any particular envoy.

It was rather difficult to gauge Pyongyang’s actual readiness to negotiate with Tokyo, given the usual condemnation of Japan for its “crimes against humanity.” Just days after Iijima’s visit, the Rodong Shinmun published a piece urging Japan to settle its past by providing compensation and apologizing for the suffering of Koreans during the colonization of the Korean Peninsula, with no mention of the abduction issue. In another Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) commentary on July 15, Pyongyang condemned Mayor Hashimoto’s remarks on sexual slavery – citing the UN Committee against Torture and Japan’s noncompliance with its purported advice to retract Hashimoto’s statements. In another KCNA article on July 28, North Korea even cited a US source – a letter by the Japanese consul general in Los Angeles – to emphasize Japan’s failure to repent for its past atrocities of World War II.

In other words, there was not much to show in terms of progress in negotiations between North Korea and Japan, despite any genuine intent to do so. An obvious difficulty was the fact that South Korea had its own hands full as it dealt with reopening the Kaesong Industrial Complex and resuming inter-Korea family reunions.

Fall 2013 – progress between the two sides?

With leaders in Japan and South Korea both serving their first year in office and with numerous domestic issues demanding their attention, prospects for an improvement in relations between them remain dim. North Korea is a wild card that could change the regional political equation at any moment, but there does not appear to be a crisis at hand. Prime Minister Abe will be focusing on China-Japan relations and the Japanese economy while President Park is facing a number of domestic political and economic issues of her own. There appears to be little sentiment in either country to give improved bilateral relations yet another try, and little prospect for success even if they do.

May 2-3, 2013: Japan’s Minister of State for the North Korean Abduction Issue Furuya Keiji attends symposiums in Washington DC and New York, to raise awareness regarding North Korea’s kidnapping of Japanese nationals.

May 5-6, 2013: The 15th Tripartite Environment Ministers Meeting takes place in Kitakyushu, Japan, amid rising diplomatic tensions. The meeting is attended by South Korea’s Environment Minister Yoon Seong-kyu, China’s Vice Environment Minister Li Ganjie, and Japan’s Environment Minister Ishihara Nobuteru.

May 8, 2013: South Korean President Park Geun-hye addresses a joint session of the US Congress, where she states that “those who are blind to the past cannot see the future,” alluding to the ongoing row over history with Japan.

May 13, 2013: Osaka Mayor Hashimoto Toru’s remarks that the Japanese military’s use of comfort women (sex slaves) was necessary during World War II raise the ire of neighboring countries as well as within Japan.

May 14-18, 2013: Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s special Cabinet adviser Iijima Isao visits Pyongyang to make progress on the “abduction issue.”

May 16, 2013: JoongAng Daily reports that South Korea’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson rebukes Mayor Hashimoto’s statement regarding sex slaves as being “below the level of common sense,” and criticizes Prime Minister Abe for posing in the cockpit of a plane numbered 731.

May 16, 2013: Seoul criticizes Tokyo over Iijima Isao’s visit to Pyongyang, expressing regret over not having been informed earlier of the envoy’s visit.

May 19, 2013: In an interview with Foreign Affairs, Prime Minister Abe equates a visit to Yasakuni Shrine with those made by US presidents to the Arlington National Cemetery.

May 19, 2013: Japan Times reports that Japanese protestors in Tokyo’s Shin-Okubo district, home to a large ethnic Korean population, made reference to Korean residents as “cockroaches” and called for their immediate “extermination.”

May 20, 2013: North Korea’s Rodong Shinmun article urges Japan to apologize and provide compensation for the suffering of Koreans during Japan’s colonization of the Korean Peninsula.

May 20, 2013: JoongAng Ilbo publishes an editorial that describes the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as “God’s vengeance,” prompting the Japanese embassy in Seoul to file protests with the South Korean newspaper.

May 21, 2013: Kyodo News reports that Japan is considering the resumption of bilateral talks with North Korea, adding that future talks will be conducted through the Foreign Ministry rather than “backdoor” channels.

May 24, 2013: United Nations (UN) Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) responds to Japan’s periodic report to the committee by urging Tokyo to increase efforts to educate its public about the comfort women/sex slave issue.

May 26, 2013: Yomiuri Shimbun reports that roughly 100 people gathered in front of the Tokyo office of South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo to protest the latest editorial describing the atomic bombings against Japan as divine punishment for its war crimes.

June 1, 2013: Defense ministers of the US, Japan, and South Korea meet on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore to discuss a coordinated response to North Korea’s nuclear and missile development and related provocations.

June 3, 2013: In an interview with the Asahi Shimbun, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expresses concerns over how a lack of sensitivity to wartime issues can generate negative impact on regional stability, citing Mayor Hashimoto’s remarks regarding comfort women (sex slaves).

June 13, 2013: Japan requests the return of a pair of medieval Korean artifacts taken from its temples in Korea earlier this year. The Korea Times notes that Seoul has been slow to reach a decision, given pressure by Buddhist groups to keep the statues in Korea.

June 16, 2013: Mainichi Shimbun reports that fights broke out in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, after roughly 200 members of Zaitokukai (Citizens Against Special Privileges for Foreigners in Japan) shouting anti-Korean slogans clashed with members of a counter-protest group shouting “Racists go home.” The police reported that eight people were arrested as a result of the brawl.

June 21, 2013: South Korea and Japan reach an agreement to maintain the amount of fish each party can catch in the other’s exclusive economic zones (EEZs) for the next 12 months.

June 24, 2013: Yonhap News details the decision by the central banks of Japan and Korea to reduce the currency swap facility between the two countries by the $3 billion.

July 1, 2013: Japan’s Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio, meets South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers Meeting in Brunei.

July 10, 2013: Seoul High Court orders Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. to pay 100 million won each ($88,000) as reparation for wartime forced labor to four Korean plaintiffs. Tokyo government responds that compensation rights were resolved under the 1965 treaty.

July 11, 2013: South Korea’s First Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Kim Kyou-hyun meets Japan’s incoming Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Saiki Akitaka to exchange views on bilateral relations and the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

July 15, 2013: Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) blasts Japan for violations against human rights, citing remarks by Mayor Hashimoto about the necessity of comfort women (sex slaves).

July 18, 2013: An opening ceremony is held for the new building for the South Korean Embassy in Tokyo’s Minato Ward.

July 18, 2013: Foreign Minister Kishida meets South Korea’s First Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Kim Kyou-hyun.

July 24, 2013: Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates Tim Hugo announces he will introduce legislation in next year’s session that will require all future textbooks approved by the Virginia Board of Education to use both East Sea and Sea of Japan to refer to the body of water between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

July 27, 2013: Japan’s Kyodo News reports that Seoul did not invite Tokyo to its 60th Korean War armistice anniversary ceremony in Seoul.

July 28, 2013: Korean spectators unveil a banner reading “A nation that forgets its history has no future” during the East Asian cup soccer match in Seoul between Japan and Korea.

July 30, 2013: South Korea’s Busan High Court orders Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., to pay 80 million won ($70,000) each to the families of five deceased South Koreans who were conscripted into labor during Japan’s colonial rule.

July 30, 2013: A bronze statue to honor “comfort women” (sex slaves) is unveiled at a park in Glendale, California, prompting the Tokyo government to express its displeasure.

July 30- August 2, 2013: Second round of trilateral talks on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between China, Japan, and South Korea takes place in Shanghai.

July 31, 2013: Korea Football Association (KFA) issues a statement claiming that the Japanese spectators’ waving of the “rising sun” flag had first incited South Korean fans at the East Asia Cup match in Seoul.

Aug. 1, 2013: Japan Times covers the story of Oh Seon-hwa, an ethnic Korean professor at Takushoku University in Japan, who was reportedly denied entry into Korea and sent back to Japan on July 27, based on Article 76 of the Korean immigration law that prevents entry of persons that may prove harmful to the country.

Aug. 2, 2013: South Korea lodges a formal protest with Japan over Tokyo’s first opinion poll regarding Dokdo/Takeshima. The survey reportedly claimed that six out of 10 Japanese respondents considered the disputed Dokdo/Takeshima to be Japanese territory.

Aug. 5, 2013: South Korean National Assembly announces the budget allocated to finance archival and legal efforts to reaffirm Korea’s claim to sovereignty over Dokdo will decrease from 4.24 billion won in 2013 to 3.47 billion won ($3.1 million) in 2014.

Aug. 8, 2013: South Korea denounces Japan’s latest moves to authorize the use of its wartime national flag (the Rising Sun).

Aug. 9-23, 2013: South Korean and Japanese air forces participate jointly in a two-week Red Flag Alaska training exercise, the first such joint participation in the drill by the two countries.

Aug. 12, 2013: Mainichi Shimbun quotes Prime Minister Abe’s remarks describing his intent to amend Japan’s constitution as his “historic mission.”

Aug. 13, 2013: Korea Herald reports 12 former comfort women (sex slaves) have filed for mediation with the Seoul Central District Court, asking for compensation from the Tokyo government for its enslavement of women during World War II.

Aug. 16, 2013: Seoul strongly condemns the visits of Japanese Cabinet members to Yasukuni Shrine and their homage to the war dead in commemoration of the 68th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II.

Aug. 29-30, 2013: United Nations Commission tasked with investigating North Korean human rights abuses visits Japan to hold hearings on Pyongyang’s past abductions of Japanese nationals.