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



Sixty Fourth Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima

On August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb to be used in war was dropped on the city of Hiroshima.  Sixty-four years later, as the number of survivors from the bombing steadily grow thin in numbers–Hiroshima, the bomb, and their legacy continue to live on as symbols within contemporary debates over the future of nuclear armaments, denuclearization, and non-proliferation.  The media surrounding the sixty-fourth commemoration of the bombing include articles on the reparations for under-represented Korean victims of the bombing, an American public opinion poll indicating that 61 percent of 2,400 questioned Americans believe the US did the “right thing” by dropping the bomb, personal narratives by both the Hibakusha victims and from Enola Gay crew member Morris Jeppson, and the controversy over former-JASDF Chief of Staff Gen. Toshio Tamogami’s lecture in Hiroshima entitled “Casting Doubt on Hiroshima’s Peace.”

In other recent news, the Yokohama city board of education approved the use of the controversial Jiyuu-sha textbook, setting the precedent as the first major city in Japan to approve the use of the controversial history textbook.  Additionally, as the August 30th election for the lower-house of the Japanese parliament looms near, media sources are speculating on the impact a DPJ government may have on historical memory issues in the Asia-Pacific.

Hiroshima Marks 64th Anniversary of Atomic Bombing, Asahi Shimbun, August 6, 2009.

Aso, Hibakusha Sign Accord on Peace Measures, Asahi Shimbun, August 6, 2009.

Panel Proposes Inviting Obama to Visit Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Asahi Shimbun, August 3, 2009.

U.S. Poll Finds Support for Atomic Bombing of Japan, Mainichi Shimbun, August 5, 2009.

Interview with Enola Gay Crew Member Morris Jeppson, Mainichi Shimbun, August 4, 2009.

A-bomb Victims Refuse to Lapse into Silence, Mainichi Shimbun, August 3, 2009.

Strive for Nuclear Disarmament, The Japan Times, August 6, 2009.

Tamogami’s A-bomb Speech Plan Slammed, The Japan Times, August 2, 2009.

Ex-Soldier to Stir Up A-bomb Survivors, The Australian, August 4, 2009.

Recent News:

Yokohama OKs Disputed History Text, Asahi Shimbun, August 5, 2009.

Yokohama Adopts Nationalistic Junior High History Textbook, The Japan Times, August 5, 2009.

Japan Party Set to Shun War Shrine, The China Daily, August 5, 2009.

Yuji Hosaka: Born to Defend Korea’s Dokdo Claims, The Korea Herald, August 3, 2009.

History May Haunt Asia Less Under Japan Democrats, Reuters India, August 2, 2009.



Prime Minister Aso Visited China
May 5, 2009, 5:15 pm
Filed under: China, China-Japan, Japan, Yasukuni Shrine

Japanese PM Taro Aso paid a two-day visit at China to meet President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao from April 29, 2009. Leaders from the two countries discussed cooperation on issues such as economy, swine flu, global warming, and youth exchanges, while Wen raised the issue with Aso’s dedication of a tree to Yasukuni Shrine:

Address by H.E. Mr. Taro Aso, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, April 30, 2009

Hu calls on joint efforts to settle China-Japan disputes, Xinhua, April 30, 2009

China tells Japan to own up to wartime atrocities or risk national backlash, Mainichi Daily News, May 1, 2009

Japan and China making historic amends, one humdrum trip at a time, The Christian Science Monitor, April 30, 2009

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Jiang Yu’s Regular Press Conference on April 30, 2009, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of People’s Republic of China, April 30, 2009

Wen urges Japan to properly handle historical issues, Xinhua, April 29, 2009

China Can’t Have It Both Ways, New York Times, April 26, 2009



News Update – May 4

May 4th: Legacy of 90 years still alive, CCTV.com, May 4, 2009

China, Taiwan Make History, Barron’s, May 4, 2009

Japanese Reactionaries’ Visit to “Yasukuni Shrine” Flayed, Korean Central News Agency, May 1, 2009

Japan Urged to Liquidate Its Crime-woven History, Korean Central News Agency, May 1, 2009

Harmonious Diplomacy and Global Governance (Part III), The Globalist, APril 30, 2009

International Symposium on Dokdo Island, May 7, PRNewswire, April 30, 2009

Lee Myung Bak Group Accused of Defending Japan’s Moves for Reinvasion,Korean Central News Agency, April 30, 2009

Should he stay or should he go?, Economist, April 30, 2009

A Pacific Alliance for Peace, Greek American News Agency, April 28, 2009

Parental love versus Kim Jong-il, Asia Times Online, April 28, 2009

China-Taiwan Links Grow, Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2009

Obama the first Asian-American president?, ABS-CBN NEWS, April 26, 2009

The Final Triumph of Chiang Kai-shek, Washington Post, April 26, 2009



Weekly Update – Mar. 02

Beijing Frets Over Pyongyang’s Launch, Asia Times Online, Mar. 4, 2009.

Rape Victim Fights for Justice Against U.S. Military, Japan, The Japan Times, Mar. 3, 2009.

Why we Recall Past Suffering, JoongAng Daily, Mar. 2, 2009.

Emperor, Empress May Visit Pearl Harbor Around July, Japan Today, Mar. 2, 2009.

Japan, China Discuss Gas Reserve Development, AP [CDT], Feb. 28, 2009.

China, Japan Play Down Islands Row, Warn N. Korea, AFP, Feb. 28, 2009.

Japan and China Seek Agreement Beyond Islands Row, Reuters, Feb. 28, 2009.

Japanese Court Rules War Shrine’s Names Must Stay, AFP, Feb. 26, 2009.