Does ongoing animosity between South Korea and Japan over the disputed Dokdo Islands and other issues that originated from historical disputes generate rally effects in Korean domestic politics? This article argues that the Dokdo Islands dispute—and related disputed issues rooted in the colonial experience of Korea under Japan's rule historically—strongly influence Korean presidents’ abilities to effectively mobilize domestic support for not only the issues, but particularly the public opinion of presidents. Using data on Korean presidents’ approval ratings between 1993 and 2016, this article shows that Korea's bilateral disputes with Japan tend to promote Korean presidential popularity. The findings suggest that external crises with Japan related to historical disputes have positive political effects on leadership ratings in Korea.

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