After the last dispute between the Korean Coast Guard and the Japanese Coast Guard in January, it became known that the situation was deteriorating and Korea is currently calling Japan a “neighbor”, not a “partner”.
South Korean media reported last week that Korea referred to Japan as its “neighbor” in its newly published Defense White Paper, instead of the term “partner” it used in its last political release in 2018.
The Ministry of Defense’s biennial White Paper on February 2 described Korea and Japan as “neighboring countries that must work together not only for bilateral relations but also for peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia and the world.”
In 2018 it said: “Korea and Japan are geographically and culturally close neighbors and partners who must work together for world peace and prosperity.
The change in tone reflects the strained Seoul and Tokyo relations amid a series of disputes over historical issues in recent years. The paper states that the territorial claims of Japanese political leaders to the Dokdo Islands, as well as the Japanese export restrictions imposed in July 2019, have hampered the development of a forward-looking relationship.
In addition, Korean Coast Guard and Japanese Coast Guard ships were caught in a nearly 40-hour stalemate in January.
A Japanese Coast Guard hydrographic survey vessel, Shoyo, entered waters claimed by both nations as an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and began surveying operations. The Korean Coast Guard asked the ship to cease surveying operations and apply for formal approval.
The stalemate continued and both sides filed formal complaints against each other. A similar incident reportedly occurred in the same location last August.
According to the BBC, the two nations share a complicated story. They have fought back and forth for at least the 7th century, and Japan has tried repeatedly to invade the peninsula since then.
In 1910 it annexed Korea and turned the area into a colony.