The Troubled Path Towards a Durable Alignment: The Role of domestic political transaction costs and an evolving threat environment in the Japan – South Korea relationship in the late 20th and early 21st Century.


Jonathan Christopher Webb@@@@@@@@

Researcher, 2nd Year Masters Student

Global Governance and Regional Strategies,


Research Project Activity For the 2010-2011 School Year

July - August 2010:@ Revised the research plan in preparation for travel to South Korea.

August 24th 2010:@ Left Japan to begin research in South Korea.

September 2010 - December 2010:@ Held informal discussions on the research topic and hypothesis with various South Korean academics on security issues.@ Began to gather information on South Korean views of that countryfs relationship with Japan from various other sources.@ Briefly returned to Japan twice to conduct background research, and conduct business related to (further) financing of the research project.

November 2010:@ Decided on the necessity of a major revision/reconceptualization of the project in response to the November 23rd North Korean Attack on South Koreafs Yeonpyeong Island, which dramatically shifted South Korean perceptions of the regional environment.@ Continued to collect relevant information and continue discussions with South Korean security experts.

January 2011:@ Completed the reconceptualization of the project and began the process of revising the interpretation of previously collected data.@ Worked on putting together an interview schedule for collecting further information necessary for the success of the research project.

February 2011-March 2011:@ Started the interview and data collection schedule previously decided upon.@ Briefly returned to Japan during this period for reasons not related to the research.


Effect of the Mori Grant upon my research project

The Mori grant was extremely useful in furthering my research.@ It allowed me to travel freely between Japan and South Korea which proved invaluable not only for collecting data, but also for dealing with various administrative and other issues which cropped up during the later half of 2010.@

It also allowed me to purchase an iPod touch, which was used primarily as a recording device, and mobile editing platform, for interviews conducted throughout the research period.@ While this may seem like an expensive purchase given that traditional voice recorders are significantly cheaper, the iPod Touch has several unique advantages which justify its cost.@ First the large amount of space available (32GB) allowed me to conduct and record interviews (both audio and video) without having to be concerned about running out of space or needing to offload the files onto another device.@ Furthermore, the device features powerful software which allows for editing on the device itself, allowing me to save valuable time and space on my PC.@ Most importantly the device is inconspicuous and not immediately recognizable as a voice/video recorder/camera, allowing me to use it in several situations where a other devices might not have been allowed (note: I always give interviewees full disclosure that I am recording).@ As a side not the device was also useful for organizing my research schedule, as I did not previously possess a PDA.@

Finally, through the grant I was able to replace several items that were damaged during the course of the research and upgrade my laptops hard drive which had run out of space for research activities.@


Revised Research Project Abstract:@

In the comprehensive literature which exists on the state of Japan- South Korea relations, it is not uncommon for authors to suggest that Japan and South Korea share a great deal of commonality in the threats they face and are thus logical allies from a realist perspective, separated only by an unusual twist of fate.@ To the degree that such commonality is not a mere oversimplification, the fact that the two sides perceive those gcommon threatsh very differently (and in fact whether they perceive them as true threats at all) is often virtually ignored.@ On the other side of the fence, scholarship such as Victor D. Chafs groundbreaking work Alignment Despite Antagonism have done much to enhance understanding of the role factors such as historical animosity play in shaping the relationship, while at the same time managing to be somewhat uncreative in thinking about the implications such factors have on long term development.@ This paper seeks to overcome these two shortcomings of the existing literature by examining the centrality of threat perceptions and gdomestic bilateral transaction costsh in shaping the relationship during the late 20th and early 21st century.@