Current Institutional Affiliation
Editorial Writer, Asahi Shimbun

Award Information

Abe Fellowship 2008
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Editorial Writer, Editorial Board, Asahi Shimbun
Historical Memory and Politics in East Asia--A Perspective from US-Japan Relations

Historical reconciliation is becoming one of the most important issues of the 21st century. It is particularly so in East Asia where volatile nationalism in one country is apt to spark off the nationalism of the other countries. History issue is a serious security concern in this region and should be dealt with as a political problem. This project analyzes Japan’s postwar political and diplomatic history which has shaped its controversial perceptions of World War Two. Most of the studies in this field have focused on domestic social and political conditions of Japan or dwelt mainly on the interplay between popular nationalism of the countries concerned. I propose to study these issues in the context of US-Japan relations with special emphasis on how the America’s alliance policy toward Japan provided the framework for the Japanese policy makers to interpret their problematic past. Japan’s former adversary China being in the communist camp, Japan was exempted from coming terms to what the Imperial Army had done in its war of aggression. And with Korea deeply divided along the 38th parallel, Japan was also spared the soul-searching task of decolonization which other colonial powers had to go through. The US policy of rearming Japan as the bulwark against communism guaranteed the comeback of Japan’s prewar leaders. Their dubious past was swept under the rug. The Cold War had frozen the history issues in East Asia, and they have begun to thaw since 1990’s. The problem of Japan’s difficulty in coming to terms with its own past could be be better understood in this context of historical and political environment of East Asia. I plan to conduct interviews with politicians and government officilas of both countries in addition to archival work of diplomatic documents The project then compares Japan’s reluctance to face up to history with more rigorous reconciliation efforts in Europe. As for Western Europe, the United States has held the policy to promote regional integration and, that is to encourage the postwar reconciliation between Germany and its former enemies. Finally, by putting Japan’s record of dealing with the past in such comparative framework, the project will identify the conditions which may promote the reconciliation process in the Asia Pacific region.