EASSC Publications


Japan and South Korea: A ‘virtual’ strategic partnership

Date of this Version


Document Type

Conference Paper


Tokyo and Seoul have long pursed mutually-shared objectives in their respective security policies, being linked in a state of ‘quasi-alliance’ with the United States though their separate bilateral defense treaties. Through this medium Japan and the ROK have exhibited a synergy in their approaches to regional security issues such as ‘North Korea’s nuclearization’ and weapons proliferation, but much of this has until now been pursed on parallel tracks, rather than through direct bilateral interaction. As perceived dangers from a more bellicose Pyongyang, a more assertive ‘rising China’, and a multiplicity of territorial disputes press harder on the two states, the trend is moving toward deeper and intensified bilateral cooperation. Indeed, the pursuit of a bona fide ‘strategic partnership’ with Seoul is one of Tokyo’s top priorities, mirroring the recent security pacts with Australia and India. Though discord over the ‘history issue’ has continued to impede what appears to be a natural alignment between the two powers, there is evidence that such a strategic partnership is beginning to crystalize. This paper therefore assesses the content, problems, and prospects of what may emerge at a key strategic relationship for both parties, and examines its implications for the regional security order.

Journal, Book or Conference Title

East Asia Security Symposium and Conference 东亚安全座谈谈论会

Publication Details

Author Information: Dr Thomas Wilkins specialises in Security Studies and Strategic Studies, with a particular emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region. He wrote his Ph.D thesis on the topic of Coalition Warfare at the University of Birmingham and as an Exchange Visitor at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. http://sydney.edu.au/arts/government_international_relations/staff/profiles/thomas.wilkins.php

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This document has been peer reviewed.