Security Cooperation in East Asia, Japan, South Korea, and the United States

Upcoming Events Login

Friday, February 9th, 2018

Friday, February 9, 20182:00PM - 5:00PMThe Vivian and David Campbell Conference Facility, 1 Devonshire Place
+ Register for this Event Print this Event Bookmark this Event


JAPAN NOW Symposium


As the ongoing crisis over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program starkly illustrates, coordinating effective international responses to serious regional challenges can be extremely difficult. Part of the difficulty rests with the fact that in every major geopolitical flashpoint in the region, important countries either stand on opposite sides of the issue or have at best partially overlapping interests.

The United States, of course, has been a key player in every major security issue in East Asia since 1945. It has relied heavily both on its network of bilateral alliances and on its forward presence, primarily in Japan. Its two most important allies in the region are Japan and South Korea, which are not formal allies, but which share a broad range of values and interests. Arguably, there is considerable scope for enhancing security cooperation both bilaterally and trilaterally.

The purpose of the symposium is to explore the possibilities and limits of enhanced security cooperation in East Asia, primarily between these three countries, and in the first instance specifically with respect to North Korea, but also more broadly.

“The American Approach to Security in Asia” by Professor Peter D. Feaver

Since the end of the Cold War, a bipartisan consensus, more or less, has guided U.S. grand strategy globally, and specifically in the Asian region. As a candidate, Donald Trump campaigned on themes that indicated he would take U.S. foreign policy in dramatically different directions. He has made some significant departures in policy, in particular dropping the TPP and withdrawing from the Paris Accords. And he has made many more departures in rhetoric, in particular in the way he talks about the value of traditional alliances, the goals of international trade, and the way he wishes to confront the North Korean nuclear threat. Yet overall, have Trump’s policies been more discontinuous or continuous? I will discuss the bidding, how we got here and where American foreign policy appears to be heading, paying special attention to the faultlines within the Trump Administration.

Peter D. FEAVER (Ph.D., Harvard University, 1990), Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA. Dr. Feaver is Director of the Triangle Institute for Security Studies (TISS) and also Director of the Duke Program in American Grand Strategy (AGS). Feaver is author of “Armed Servants: Agency, Oversight, and Civil-Military Relations” (Harvard Press, 2003) and “Guarding the Guardians: Civilian Control of Nuclear Weapons in the United States” (Cornell University Press, 1992). He is co-author: with Christopher Gelpi and Jason Reifler, of “Paying the Human Costs of War” (Princeton Press, 2009); with Susan Wasiolek and Anne Crossman, of “Getting the Best Out of College” (Ten Speed Press, 2008, 2nd edition 2012); and with Christopher Gelpi, of “Choosing Your Battles: American Civil-Military Relations and the Use of Force” (Princeton Press, 2004). He has also authored a variety of monographs, scholarly articles, book chapters, and policy pieces on American foreign policy, public opinion, nuclear proliferation, civil-military relations, information warfare, and U.S. national security. He is a member of the Aspen Strategy Group and co-curator of the Elephants in the Room blog on From June 2005 to July 2007, he served as Special Advisor for Strategic Planning and Institutional Reform on the National Security Council Staff at the White House where his responsibilities included the national security strategy, regional strategy reviews, and other political-military issues. In 1993-94, he served as Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control on the National Security Council at the White House where his responsibilities included the national security strategy review, counterproliferation policy, regional nuclear arms control, and other defense policy issues.

“History or Security? Politics and Diplomacy over the Issue of Comfort Women among Japan, South Korea, and the United States” by Professor Naoko Kumagai

This presentation demonstrates how matters of geopolitical security have been able to override the historical issue of comfort women in the Japan-South Korea relationship. The presentation explores the vicious circle wherein Korean and international criticism of Japan, partly fueled by Korean and international activists, stirred the “revisionist” backlash from Japan and worsened the overall Japan-South Korean diplomatic relationship. The presentation highlights two distinctive problems in the vicious circle: the balance between reconciliation and factual accuracy and the neglect of moral or legal responsibilities. Japan’s hardliner conservatives have denied the importance of moral responsibility, while anti-Japanese critics have overemphasized Japan’s legal responsibility. The presentation then examines how and to what extent America’s encouragement of reconciliation between Japan and South Korea, out of security concerns in the face of the North Korean nuclear and missile crisis and the rise of China, has served to ameliorate the problems and facilitate reconciliation.

Naoko KUMAGAI (Ph.D., Graduate Center of the City University of New York, 2009), Associate Professor and Director of the International Relations Program, International University of Japan, Minamiuonuma, Niigata Prefecture. Dr. Kumagai is the author of Jūgun Ianfu Mondai (Chikuma Shinsho, 2014), which was translated into English, “The Comfort Women: Historical, Political, Legal, and Moral Perspectives (English version of Jūgun Ianfu Mondai. Translated by David Noble)” (I-House Press, July 2016), selected for the 2014 LTCB (Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan) International Library for English translation. She published various papers and articles on Japan-Korea relations, forgiveness and reconciliation, international security, humanitarian law, and Japan-India relations. Among her articles are “The Absence of Consensus in Japan over the Issue of Comfort Women–With the Case of the Asian Women’s Fund from the Approach of Ontological Security” (Social Science Japan Journal, July 2015) and “Asian Women’s Fund Revisited” (Asia-Pacific Review, Vol.2, Issue 2, 2014). She is a recipient of the Nakasone Yasuhiro Award Incentive Award in July 2016. Her current research interests include disarmament and international security, weapons research and development, humanitarianism, the protection of civilians in armed conflict, and state sovereignty and transnational civil society.

“Incompatible National Historical Narratives as an Obstacle to Security Cooperation” by Dr. Seung Hyok Lee

In the current South Korea-Japan relations, incompatible ‘national historical narratives’ concerning certain past events at the citizen level are an influential factor binding governmental interactions in publicized bilateral issues. However, while the two societies increasingly disagree on the ‘contents’ of their respective narratives, the underlying patterns of how they permeate in each society are similar. The first pattern is a belief in ‘national exceptionalism’, and the second is a belief that their unique historical accomplishments are now being subjected to their neighbour’s distortion. Most citizens in each country, at present, are unaware that the two same ideational patterns are equally at work on the other side. By promoting Japanese and South Korean public to recognize this fact, rather than focusing on the incompatible contents of the diverging national historical narratives, the two countries could attain a genuine ‘maturation’ in the bilateral relations. This presentation will argue that in the long run, this mutual recognition at the citizen level is what will sustain a stable and lasting bilateral cooperation, including in the regional security issues.

Seung Hyok LEE (Ph.D., University of Toronto, 2011), Lecturer in Political Science, University of Toronto-Scarborough, and Associate at the Centre for the Study of Global Japan, Munk School of Global Affairs. Dr. Lee has served as Assistant Professor at the Graduate School of Law, Hokkaido University, as well as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace and at the Louis Frieberg Center for East Asian Studies, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has also been Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Renison University College, University of Waterloo, and Visiting Scholar at the Asian Institute, Munk School of Global Affairs. His main research interest is domestic society’s influence on publicized foreign policy issues, with a specific focus on Japan and the Korean Peninsula. He is the author of Japanese Society and the Politics of the North Korean Threat (University of Toronto Press, 2016), “North Korea in South Korea-Japan Relations as a Source of Mutual Security Anxiety among Democratic Societies,” (The International Relations of the Asia-Pacific), and “Be Mature and Distinguish the ‘Forest’ from the ‘Trees’: Overcoming Korea-Japan Disputes Based on Incompatible National Historical Narratives” (Asteion).


David A. WELCH (Ph.D., Harvard University, 1990), Dean’s Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Endowed Chair Program in Japanese Politics and Global Affairs, University of Toronto; CIGI Chair of Global Security, Balsillie School of International Affairs; Professor of Political Science, University of Waterloo; and Senior Fellow, Centre for International Governance Innovation. Dr. Welch is author of Painful Choices: A Theory of Foreign Policy Change (Princeton University Press, 2005), Justice and the Genesis of War (Cambridge University Press, 1993), and co-editor of Japan as a ‘Normal Country’? A Nation in Search of Its Place in the World (University of Toronto Press, 2011). He has recently been researching and writing on Asia-Pacific Security, with a particular focus on confidence, trust, empathy, threat perception, misperception, North Korea, the East China Sea, and the South China Sea.


Eileen Lam

Main Sponsor

Centre for the Study of Global Japan


Munk School of Global Affairs

Department of Political Science

Consulate General of Japan in Toronto

Asian Institute

If you are attending a Munk School event and require accommodation(s), please email the event contact listed above to make appropriate arrangements.

Disclaimer: Please note that events posted on this website are considered to be public events – unless otherwise stated – and you are choosing to enter a space where your image and/or voice may be captured as part of event proceedings that may be made public as part of a broadcast, webcast, or publication (online and in print). We make every effort to ensure your personal information is kept and used in compliance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). If you have any questions please get in touch with our office at or 416-946-8900.


Newsletter Signup Sign up for the Munk School Newsletter

× Strict NO SPAM policy. We value your privacy, and will never share your contact info.