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History Education and Reconciliation

Comparative Perspectives on East Asia

Edited By Unsuk Han, Takahiro Kondo, Biao Yang and Falk Pingel

The legacy of crimes committed during the Second World War in East Asia is still a stumbling block for reconciliation and trustful cultural relations between South Korea, China and Japan. The presentation of this issue in history school books is in the focus of a heated public and academic debate. This book written by historians and pedagogues from the three countries offers insight into the construction of historical narratives that are often nation-centered and foster exclusive identity patterns. However, the essays also reveal approaches to a more inclusive regional concept of East Asian history that puts the textbook debate into the wider framework of transitional justice.


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Atsuko Kawakita: The Culture of Remembrance in Contemporary Japan: International Historical Issues in Japanese Mass Media


Atsuko Kawakita The Culture of Remembrance in Contemporary Japan: International Historical Issues in Japanese Mass Media The Culture of Remembrance in Japan and Germany Japan and Germany are often compared in terms of their ‘culture of remem- brance’. In Germany, during the ‘historians‘ dispute’ (Historikerstreit) in 1986-1987, debates raged over whether the extermination of European Jews in Nazi Ger- many should be regarded as a ‘unique’ event incomparable to any other geno- cide in history. Those advocating uniqueness contended that the denial of uniqueness would lead to the relativization of the Holocaust and to a revisionist interpretation of Nazi Germany that could be easily abused for political pur- poses. In this debate, the historian Ernst Nolte whose article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung triggered the controversy described Germany’s past of Na- tional Socialism as ‘the past that will not go away’ (Die Vergangenheit, die nicht vergehen will).1 The unification of East and West Germany changed the politi- cal, economic, and socio-cultural landscape of Germany in many ways. The German historical consciousness concerning the National Socialist era has also altered greatly since the Historikerstreit. What has not changed, however, is that the Nazi past is still frequently referred to and debated, and ‘overcoming the past’ (Vergangenheitsbewältigung) remains at the core of Germany’s national identity. In Japan, the phrase ‘the past that will not go away’ is apparently favored by those who are willing to confront the Japanese modern national history with a critical perspective. In 1995, a collection of...

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