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History Education and Reconciliation

Comparative Perspectives on East Asia

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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Bu, Ping: Historical Perceptions: Within the Border or beyond the Border?

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Bu, Ping Historical Perceptions: Within the Border or beyond the Border? National Identity in East Asia Modern European history could be described as a history of wars between dif- ferent ‘nation states’. However, in the late 20th century, European countries be- gan to move towards a greater unity. The European Union (EU) is the most vivid example of this development. Are Europeans tired of wars and do they want to be at peace with each other? Perhaps an old Chinese proverb aptly de- scribes the European development: ‘The world evolves in unification-splitting- unification cycles.’ However, some scholars have suggested that two factors have influenced European political and cultural developments in modern times: One is the emer- gence of modern countries, that is, ‘nation states’; the other is the development of a common ‘identity’, that is, ‘the idea of European integration’. ‘The two developmental directions started from medieval times … therefore, if we want to get a better understanding of modern or even contemporary Euro- pean political philosophies, the two ”concepts” must be comprehended clearly at first, namely the national and the European concept, or ”nationalism” and ”Europeanism”. Nationalism led to the founding of the nation-state or a mul- tinational ”federal state”; Europeanism led up to today’s European Union (or the Integration Process of Europe).’1 In contrast, East Asian countries have not yet built such identity patterns.2 Some scholars believe that the successful building of a European identity is closely connected with the realities of European history, and despite the great...

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