UTokyo Lecture Nov. 27 Lauren Richardson on The Non-State Drivers of History Problems in Japan-South Korea Relations

Gregory Noble's picture
November 27, 2019
Subject Fields: 
Political Science, Japanese History / Studies, Korean History / Studies

The Contemporary Japan Group at the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Social Science

(ISS, or Shaken), welcomes you to a lecture by


Lauren Richardson (The Australian National University)


The Non-State Drivers of History Problems in Japan-South Korea Relations



Wednesday, November 27 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. at Akamon Sōgō Kenkyūtō Room 549, Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo, Hongo Campus, University of Tokyo



History problems remain the major bone of contention in Japan-South Korea relations. Although the historical roots of such problems have gradually receded with time, paradoxically the diplomatic friction surrounding them has grown steadily more intense. The post-Cold War era in particular has witnessed a marked surge in bilateral tension over the burden of the past.

In this presentation I explain this paradox as a rise in contentious activism that began against the backdrop of South Korea’s democratization in the late 1980s. Driving this activism has been the Korean victims of Japanese imperial policies, intent on exacting redress for their historical ordeals; and they have been supported in this endeavour by an array of progressive activists in Japan. I argue that the pressure tactics of the victims and their supporters have become increasingly effectual over time. This has manifested as a new logic for the ROK-Japan relationship: one in which citizens are now agents in shaping state-to-state interaction.

Drawing on case studies of Korean “comfort women,” forced laborers and atomic bomb victims, this presentation aims to elucidate the precise mechanisms by which victim redress movements are affecting Japan-South Korea relations.


Lauren Richardson is Director of Studies and Lecturer at the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy. Previously she taught Northeast Asian Relations at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on the “history problems” in Northeast Asia and the role of non-state actors in shaping diplomatic interactions in the region. Dr Richardson holds Master’s degrees in Asian Studies (Monash University) and Political Science (Keio University), and a PhD in International Relations from the ANU. She has been a visiting fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs and Keio University.


The ISS Contemporary Japan Group provides English-speaking residents of the Tokyo area with an opportunity to hear cutting-edge research in social science and related policy issues, as well as a venue for researchers and professionals in or visiting Tokyo to present and receive knowledgeable feedback on their latest research projects. Admission is free and advance registration is not required. Everyone is welcome.
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