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(Re)producing the ‘history problem’: memory, identity and the Japan-South Korea trade dispute

Deacon, Chris (2021) (Re)producing the ‘history problem’: memory, identity and the Japan-South Korea trade dispute. Pacific Review. ISSN 0951-2748

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Identification Number: 10.1080/09512748.2021.1897652

Abstract

Japan-South Korea relations have consistently been presented by International Relations scholars as a puzzle that confounds mainstream rationalist theories, which struggle to explain the consistent acrimony associated with the so-called ‘history problem’. While many scholars have, therefore, adopted conventional constructivist approaches to incorporate history into their analyses, such literature often neglects the processes of (re)construction of this social reality, thereby implicitly treating these negative sentiments as essentialised elements of Korean and Japanese culture/identity which cause certain foreign policies. Using the recent Japan-South Korea trade dispute as a case study, this article instead draws on critical constructivist/poststructuralist theory and discourse analytical methods to examine how the ‘history problem’ is produced and reproduced. It argues that dominant discourses of remembering in South Korea, which represent Japan as an unrepentant colonial aggressor, and of forgetting in Japan, which represent South Korea as emotional and irrational for dwelling on the past, act to (re)produce identities that clash in their attitudes to difficult history. While such foreign policy practices (re)produce dominant national identities, these identities also shape the bounds of which foreign policies are legitimate or imaginable. This mutually constitutive relationship between identity and foreign policy continually reproduces the ‘history problem’ in Japan-South Korea relations.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rpre20/current
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
D History General and Old World > DS Asia
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 24 Mar 2021 11:15
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2021 02:46
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/109299

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