International Relations of the Asia-Pacific

February 2004 (Volume 4, No. 1)


Taking the 'taken-for-grantedness' seriously: problematizing Japan's perception of Japan-South Korea relations
by Taku Tamaki


The existence of acrimonious relations between Japan and its immediate neighbour, South Korea, is a familiar theme in the literature on the international relations of the Asia-Pacific. Public discourse in Japan treats this acrimony as the starting point for the formulation of diplomatic policy towards Seoul. While not suggesting that such an outlook is wrong, characterizing the bilateral relations as 'tough' has become 'taken-for-granted'. By focusing on the representation of Japanese collective identity within the public discourse, and treating it as a foreign policy speech act, this article argues that taking the 'taken-for-grantedness' seriously allows us to unpack the intersubjective structure of Japan-South Korea relations, enabling us to appreciate fully the recurring invective across the Tsushima Straits.