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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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Park, Kyung-seok: Remembering Wars: War Memorial Halls and Historical Disputes in Northeast Asia


Park, Kyung-seok Remembering Wars: War Memorial Halls and Historical Disputes in Northeast Asia 1. Historical Memory and War Memorial Halls The three Northeast Asian countries, Korea, China, and Japan, have maintained close relations since ancient times at various levels – including culture, politics, and economics. The people of the three countries have frequently exchanged visits. They have shared Chinese characters, Confucianism, Buddhism, Laws and Decrees, and historical records. However, there has also been another side to these relations. The three countries have been entangled in numerous conflicts and struggles, and, in the worst cases, wars. In early modern times, Korea, China, and Japan became a colony, a semi- colony and an imperialist country, respectively. Conflicts arose among the three which led to confrontations of extreme proportions in modern times. Such ex- periences remained in the people’s unconscious historical memory. The success or failure of one or the other is often met with a degree of joy or dissatisfaction by the neightbor/s. People of the three countries are wary of one anothter’s pro- gress.1 Such attitudes are most conspicuous with regards to historical issues, such as the publication of certain history textbooks, Japanese leaders’ acts of homage at Yasukuni Shrine, the ‘Comfort Women’ issue, conflicting claims of sover- eignty over Dokdo, the naming of the East Sea (cf. the Sea of Japan) and China’s Northeast Project. Controversy related to any one of these issues is likely to escalate into sentimental confrontation between the people of these countries. As such, historical issues pose...

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