The problem with the current deadlock in Japan-South Korea relations is that both sides don’t feel too uncomfortable about it because they prioritize their relationship with the United States and China — the two heavyweight stakeholders in the region. Seoul and Tokyo feel ambivalent about just how important the other side is at a time when the geopolitical fluidity is increasing in East Asia — a factor that is influencing relational dynamics between Japan and South Korea.

Pessimism is rampant. In fact, pessimism is so great that even an argument such as “only time will solve the problem” is suggested as a solution. The danger of this logic is that both sides can settle for a strategy of waiting for the other side to scream “ouch” first.

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