This paper argues the perceptions of relations between two nations involve not only the institutionalized national-boundary but also the perspectives of multiple symbolic boundaries. Based on a qualitative study, this paper aims to explain how different symbolic boundaries impact Japanese experts’ perception of interrelations between Japan and the Republic of Korea (South Korea). The paper includes an analysis of opinion surveys, 20 semi-structured interviews with experts, and three focus group interviews with university students of Peace Studies Departments conducted throughout June and July of 2018 in Tokyo, Japan. These results advance existing scholarship by showing that Japanese experts use the following four symbolic boundaries to comprehend relations between Japan and South Korea: boundaries between (1) victims and perpetrators; (2) ‘the West’ and the Asian cultural and political space; (3) nationalistic and peaceful countries; and (4) a state and people.
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