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.

There is no reason whatsoever to believe that time will run its healing course and salvage the relationship, which is at its lowest since the two countries normalized relations in 1965. The relationship will drift further apart without active intervention. But how?