History gets in the way of better Japan-South Korea ties

The latest spat between South Korea and Japan may be over export restrictions, but it is being fuelled by historical feuds. The row threatens the trilateral US-Japan-South Korea security alliance.

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Every once in a while, tempers flare up between the two North-east Asian neighbours Japan and South Korea. Often, these are over issues of history or territory that otherwise simmer below the surface like volcanoes waiting to erupt.

Emotions have run high before. In August 2001, 10 South Koreans sliced off their finger tips to protest against then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine that honours Class A criminals of World War II among Japan's war dead.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2019, with the headline History gets in the way of better Japan-South Korea ties. Subscribe