Has democracy destabilized East Asia?
Elkin, Zachary T.
Weiner, Robert J.
Twomey, Christopher P.
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Japan and South Korea share many similarities. Both have experienced periods of extraordinary growth, both have advanced market economies, and they both have recently experienced the first transition between parties that control its executive branch. In each case, scholars have blamed the new parties for instability. The Democratic Party of Japan's rule witnessed base issues that exacerbated U.S.-Japan relations, the 3/11 disaster, and the nationalization of the Senkaku Islands, an action that increased tension with China over the disputed territory. In South Korea, Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun presided over the desecuritization of the North Korean threat, heated anti-American protests, and a near conflict with Tokyo over the disputed Dokdo Islands. These were all tense scenarios for new leaders. But were they tense because of these administrations' policies and actions; that is, do political parties in Tokyo and Seoul actually matter? Or would these outcomes have occurred regardless? It is the conclusion of this research that the administrations did contribute to the instability within East Asia; however, their impact on regional stability was transitory. Each administration attempted significant policy changes and each had differing degrees of failure because of international and domestic constraints that tended to reinforce the status quo.
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