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The Abe cabinet, frustrated at what it sees as a constant reopening of past agreements reached with Seoul, lost patience with the Moon government when it abandoned the painfully negotiated “comfort women” agreement Japan had reached in 2015 with President Park Geun-hye. Tokyo responded to the more recent Supreme Court decision on forced labor by arguing that it violated the terms of the 1965 treaty, which had been accompanied by a host of side agreements designed to address such complaints over forced labor. Where Seoul saw the courts as acting independently from the executive branch, Tokyo saw a comprehensive effort to undermine bilateral relations.
But this round of antagonism over the past had a new twist. The militaries of both countries, long quiet during these political storms, became entangled in the growing animosity. Last December, Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force alleged that a South Korean naval vessel targeted a Japanese surveillance aircraft with its fire-control radar as the aircraft approached a search and rescue exercise. Where in past disputes, diplomats might have stepped in to descry the misperception, repeated meetings between the two foreign ministers only resulted in a stalemate. South Korea denied the veracity of Japanese video of the incident; Japan refused to consider limiting its surveillance activities. In the past, senior military officers, cognizant of the operational necessity of military cooperation between the United States, Japan, and South Korea, had largely sought to avoid the nationalistic impulses of their politicians. Now they became just as sensitive to perceived slights and to the hardening attitudes of their publics.
Prime Minister Abe and President Moon Jae-in barely spoke during the Group of Twenty summit in Osaka, coming together only for a requisite photo opportunity. Today's announcement by Japan of export restrictions on materials used in display and semiconductor production adds another layer of animosity. This is not the first time Japan has used economics means to show displeasure. In 2015, the Abe cabinet let a currency swap agreement with South Korea expire during a period of tension.
https://www.cfr.org/blog/seoul-and-toky ... ent=071719
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