Domestic Politics and Negotiation Process between Japan and the ROK on the Japanese History Textbook Issue in 1982

Conference: The Asian Conference on the Social Sciences (ACSS2022)
Title: Domestic Politics and Negotiation Process between Japan and the ROK on the Japanese History Textbook Issue in 1982
Stream: International Relations & Human Rights
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Yeojoo Jeon, The University of Tokyo, Japan


Among various historical issues, the Japanese history textbook controversy has been a source of conflict since it gained international attention in 1982. At the time, the public opinion in the ROK opposed Japan's attempts to revise its history textbooks in favor of the Japanese and initiated public protest to call for the correction measures. This issue hampered the Japan-ROK effort to advance further economic cooperation and even maintain the previously possible cooperation. Thus, the Japanese and ROK governments negotiated to lessen resistance from the Korean people. As a consequence of the negotiation, the Japanese government conceded to take corrective measures and make an official statement upon the request of the ROK government. This paper analyzes the negotiation process while taking domestic politics seriously and consequently provides the reasons for the negotiation outcome as follows. Firstly, the ROK government could not overcome its legitimacy problems and hence could not obtain autonomy from domestic pressures during the decision-making process. Thus, the ROK government could utilize domestic protests as a resource in the negotiation. Secondly, the Japanese government had greater autonomy from domestic pressures than usual democracies because of the LDP’s dominance in its domestic politics, which weakened its relative bargaining position with the ROK government. Thirdly, the Japanese and the ROK high-rank officials and a parliamentary group played a vital role in making bandwidth for the consent of both domestic politics. In conclusion, this paper aims to provide suggestions to foster a more cooperative relationship between Japan and the ROK.

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