The relations between the different states in East Asia have been showing significant tension the last year. North Korea’s position remains problematic and has now been officially accused of crimes against humanity, South Korea and Japan clash over Japan’s treatment of its war past. The recent antagonism between China and Japan has even led some observers to compare these tensions to pre-Sarajevo 1914.


19 May 2014 | 11.00-17.00


Gravensteen | Room 011 | Pieterskerkhof 6 | Leiden

Foreign policy is habitually informed by analyses from the dimension of the state. This seminar will show a different side of this debate, or rather: different sides. Non-state actors (NOG’s, civilian initiatives, influential intellectuals, businesses, religious groups) are as much part of this debate in East Asia. They also contribute to the formation of the parameters within which the state has the freedom to act. There are abundant examples: the public opinions of (amateur) historians, for instance, play an important role in South Korea; the voices of on Weibo, Chinese Twitter, are heard in the Chinese Politburo; many Japanese religious groups maintain close ties to Japanese politics. These are just a few of the many ‘hidden’ communities that often indirectly and unseen contribute to foreign policy formulations. Some of these exist only temporarily in cyber space. Others are tightly-knit and possess long histories. All try to a greater or lesser extent to have their voices heard.

Often, these voices are not heard. Our attention tends to go to what is said in Seoul, Tokyo, Beijing or Taipei. And it should, but at the same time these hidden voices are crucial for the understanding of the dynamics between East Asian states. When Park Geun-Hey ostentatiously ignores Abe Shinzō on an international conference, when Xi Jinping visits army troops near the border or when North Korea condemns the Japanese vision on recent history, there is more to it than the mere execution of central policy. This is when the multiple voices of hidden communities indirectly speak.

With the recently increased tensions between East Asian states not showing any sign of abating, it is all the more important to understand the dynamics that create and maintain these tensions. It is crucial to hear these multiple voices in order to be able to anticipate on future developments.

During the seminar several experts on East Asia and international relations will explore the situation outside of the government offices in Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, Pyongyang and Taipei. The presentations will be short, to-the-point and interactive in order to facilitate discussion and exchange of thoughts between those present.

After the seminar there will be an opportunity to continue the discussions informally over drinks.


11.00 Coffee & registration

11.15 Welcome MEARC Director and Professor of Korean Studies Remco Breuker & Deputy DOA Director Jan Waltmans

11.25 Visualizing of East Asian politics: Letting pictures speak for themselves? Dr. Koen De Ceuster, Prof. Stefan Landsberger and Dr. Bryce Wakefield (Leiden University) Introduction of new project on how visual means can give access to a better understanding of contemporary politics and society in China, Japan and North Korea.

12.00 Chinese politics online: Who guides public opinion in China’s digital networks? Dr Florian Schneider (Leiden University) 12.30 Coffee & sandwiches

13.30 Wim Geerts, Directeur-generaal Politieke Zaken BuZa

13.45 Chinese journalists on the state of their country: a non-official view Garrie van Pinxteren, MA (RUG & Clingendael Institute) 14.15 The view from Seoul Dr. Young Chul Cho, Korea Foundation Visiting Professor at Leiden University 14.45 Coffee break

15.00 Hidden voices from Pyongyang Prof. Remco Breuker (Leiden University)

15.30 Debating the contours of Japan’s human-centred security policies – human security and a responsibility to protect Dr. Lindsay Black (Leiden University) 16.00 Comprehensive reaction to the presentations Prof. Jan Melissen (Clingendael Institute)

16.15 From research to policy Jan Waltmans, Deputy Director DOA, BuZa16.30 Discussion

17.00 Drinks