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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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Takahiro Kondo: Progress in Dialogues on History in East Asia and Future Perspectives

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Takahiro Kondo Progress in Dialogues on History in East Asia and Future Perspectives Introduction Many people in Japan’s neighboring countries China and Korea remain doubtful and uneasy because Japan has not yet allayed their concerns and grievances about solving the ‘history issue’. First, some contend that Japan is ultimately re- sponsible for the history problem. This is based on the view that Japan has not fully redressed the grievances stemming from its past wars of aggression and history of colonialism. Second, some believe that the history problem has been caused by the nationalistic political structures of the respective countries, and that democratization is essential for providing a solution. Finally, some think that dialogues to address the history problem in East Asia began too late, and this has exacerbated the issue. Though these three notions are not entirely misplaced, they do not approach the issue with sufficient depth or precision. – Regarding the first idea, attention should be directed primarily to conflicting views that arose in recent years over the portrayal of relations between China and Korea in ancient times. When this issue is adequately examined, it will become apparent that the premises on which this idea rests are not suffi- ciently persuasive. – The second idea can be countered with the argument that, because of the pro- gress of democratic reforms, the governments of China and South Korea can no longer control their people’s anti-Japanese sentiments. Furthermore, in Ja- pan, populist politicians and cultural figures in the media, most notably fig- ures...

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