Japanese Perspective on Korean Reunification: An Analysis of Interrelations between Social Identity and Power

Karina Korostelina*, Yuji Uesugi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The paper explores how experts in Japan assess and understand the process and consequences of the unification of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). Based on the theoretical framework of interrelations between social identity and power, this paper asks how Japanese experts frame the process of Korean unification and evaluate its impact on Japan. The data was collected in Tokyo, Japan, through 37 semi-structured and focus group interviews, then examining these interviews using phenomenological and critical discourse analysis. Analysis of data reveals the existence of four competing narratives rooted in the complex relations between meaning of identity, concepts of power, and Japanese policies toward the unification process. The paper expands the description of two narratives currently present in the existing literature, (1) threat and (2) peace, and introduces two new narratives, (3) democratic processes and (4) restorative justice. The final discussion explores how three groups of factors, (1) regional dynamics, (2) domestic policy, and (3) possible models of unification, influence the prevalence of a particular narrative as well as resulting policies of Japan toward Korean unification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-71
Number of pages25
JournalAsian International Studies Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jun


  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Power
  • Reunification
  • Social Identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Industrial relations
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Japanese Perspective on Korean Reunification: An Analysis of Interrelations between Social Identity and Power'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this