Memory and Reconciliation in the Asia-Pacific


DPJ Victory in Lower House Election: Hopes and Fears of the Asia-Pacific
September 4, 2009, 6:46 pm
Filed under: China, China-Japan, China-Korea, Japan, Japan-Korea, Korea, Yasukuni Shrine

The landslide victory of the DPJ and its junior partners over the LDP-Komei coalition in the recent general election for the Lower House of Parliament has led many to consider the possibility of a positive change in regional relationships between Japan and its neighboring countries.  Since the beginning of the campaign period, Yukio Hatoyama and his fellow DPJ leaders have articulated the importance of developing closer, more amicable relationships with Japan’s Asian neighbors, and Hatoyama has been extremely vocal when addressing issues pertaining to the legacy of historical issues that has consistently tested Japan’s relations with its neighbors.  While these promises for closer ties has left some in neighboring China and S. Korea optimistic toward the incoming administration, across the Pacific there are many who raise the question, “at what cost?”  Hatoyama’s recent Op-Ed in the New York Times entitled, “A New Path for Japan” raised some concerns in the United States of a possible distancing between the US and its ally in the Far East.  While DPJ officials quickly dispelled the idea of Japan moving away from the US, the question remains as to how Japan’s role in the region will (or will not) change with the arrival of the DPJ leadership.

This week’s news brief focuses on the varying hopes and fears of the Asia-Pacific as it witnesses the historic change in leadership within Japan:

A New Path for Japan, The New York Times, Aug. 26, 2009.

Korea Hopes for New Era in Japan Relations, The JoongAng Daily, Sept. 01, 2009.

South Korea Eyes Better Ties with Japan’s Next Leader, ChannelNewsAsia, Aug. 26, 2009.

Likely Japan Leaders to Focus on Asia Ties, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 27, 2009.

Hatoyama Seeks ‘Yukio-Barack’ Rapport, China Ties, Bloomberg, Sept. 1, 2009.

Interest High Among Foreign Media in ‘Historic’ Election, The Japan Times, Sept. 1, 2009.

U.S. May Profit from Better Japan-Asia Ties, Reuters, Sept. 3, 2009.

Sino-Japanese Ties not to be Affected After DPJ Assumes Reins of Government, SINA, Aug. 31, 2009.

DPJ to Further Advance Japan-China Ties: Party Chief, Xinhua, Aug. 11, 2009.



August 15: The Legacy of World War II on the Sixty Fourth Anniversary of Japan’s Surrender
August 14, 2009, 8:34 pm
Filed under: Japan, Korea, POW and Forced Labor, Yasukuni Shrine

On August 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito announced to the Japanese public Japan’s acceptance of the Potsdam declaration, and the country’s surrender to the Allied powers.  Although the official instrument of surrender was not signed until September 2, 1945, August 15 is recognized as the date of the conclusion of World War II in the Pacific theater.

In the post-War period, August 15 has come to be commemorated as “Victory over Japan” or “V-J” day in the United States, the “Shusen Kinenbi” or the “Anniversary of the War’s End” in Japan, and “Gwangbokjeol” or “Restoration of the Light” (Liberation) day in South Korea.

Despite the differences in naming, today, August 15th 2009 (August 14th in the United States) marks the sixty fourth anniversary of the day Japan announced its surrender to the World in 1945.  The evening edition of the news in the United States, and the morning edition of the news in Japan and Korea have thus far carried minimal coverage of this event.  The ‘non-remembrance’ of the end of World War II in the Pacific has frustrated veterans such as Albert Perdeck (NY Times, “Keeping Alive Memories That Bedevil Him,” Aug. 13, 2009) and furthermore, begs the question of whether this symbolizes the world moving on past the post-War era, or whether it is simply a symptom of historic amnesia?

The articles that do, however, report on this event are as follows:

On Liberation Day: It’s Crucial to Know and Surmount Former Colonizer, The Korea Times, Aug. 14, 2009.

The 64th National Ceremony to Mourn the War Dead Held Today, 7200 Bereaved Families Participate [Japanese], The MSN-Sankei News, Aug. 15, 2009.

This Land–Keeping Memories Alive That Bedevil Him, The New York Times, Aug. 13, 2009.

Summer of the General Election, With a Quiet “Yasukuni” Resolution to the Issue Remains Unforeseen [Japanese], The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 15, 2009.

Government to Invite U.S. Bataan POWs, The Daily Yomiuri, Aug. 15, 2009.



Weekly Update – August 8

Two articles on South Korea reports Korean movements against Japan on Dokto Islets or Takeshima and the Sea of Japan or East Sea. The Northeast Asian History Foundation organized a scholary forum on Dokto Issue.

 Korean Times provides a positive commentary on Chinese Director Li Ying’s documentary film, ‘Yasukuni’, which was recently released in Korea.

A Mainichi Shimbun journalist writes on her interaction with hibakusha and introduces a second generation hibakusha Hiromi Peterson, a Japanese who married to an American in Hawaii. She produced a textbook that recounts her family’s experiences after the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. The textbook is now used across Hiroshima.

Jay Taylor’s new book titled “The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-Shek and the Struggle for Modern China” sheds a new light on Chiang Kai-shek’s life highlighting his talent as a strategist and rebutting some of popular conceptions such as his reluctance to exhaust his army in battles against the Japanese Army, utilizing new materials.

South Koreans want water called East Sea, UPI August 6, 2009

‘Japan’s Claim to Dokdo Threatens Peace in N-E Asia’, Korea Times, August 6, 2009

‘Yasukuni’ Cuts Into Spiritual Dimension, Koera Times, August 6, 2009

Serving as a bridge to spread the message of the atomic bombing, Mainichi Shimbun, August 6, 2009

The Generalissimo, Christian Science Monitor, August 6, 2009



How to Move Forward with Reconciliation in East Asia

Professor Mike Mochizuki pointed out the importance of developing a web of institutions for reconciliation in East Asia in his presentation at the Northeast Asian History Foundation, Seoul. Mainichi Shimbun argues that Japan needs to find its atonement in East Asia after the demise of the the San Francisco Treaty structure.

Web of Institutions Can Resolve History Issues in Northeast Asia, Korea Times, July 8, 2009

Japan must find its own path to atonement for wartime, colonial history, Mainichi Shimbun, July 7, 2009



Update on North Korean Nuclear Issue
July 10, 2009, 3:59 pm
Filed under: China, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, Korea

What’s Driving Pyongyang?, GlobalSecurity.org, July 3, 2009

Allies in Paranoia and Repression, Far Eastern Economic Review, July 3, 2009

Dialogue-First Diplomacy Not Working, CBS, July 8, 2009



Economic Integration in East Asia
July 6, 2009, 6:44 pm
Filed under: China-Korea, Japan-Korea, Korea

The first article reports that Busan in Korea and its Japanese sister city of Fukuoka have agreed to create a common economic zone, bringing the economies, cultures and peoples of both cities more closer together than ever. The opinion piece in the second article criticizes moves towards more economic integration in East Asia.

Busan, Fukuoka to Become One Economic Zone, Korea Times, June 25, 2009

Korea-China FTA — Terrible Idea, Korea Times, June 26, 2009



South Korean reaction to the NK issue
July 6, 2009, 6:39 pm
Filed under: Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Korea

The two articles below represent South Korean views that tie the issue of North Korean nuclear weapon with the national pride and autonomy of Koreans.

[Viewpoint] Fears over history repeating itself, JoongAng Daily, June 26, 2009

Looking for Clue, Korea Times, June 29, 2009