Still a way to go for Japanese minorities

Ainu drummers hammer out the sounds of their musical tradition. The Ainu were not officially recognised as an indigenous people until 2008. (Photo by:  Gianfranco Chicco).

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

In August 2014 Yasuyuki Kaneko, a city councillor for Sapporo, sparked intense controversy by tweeting ‘there are no such people as the Ainu any more, are there? [But] they constantly demand rights they don’t deserve. How can this be reasonable?’ Read more…

Japanese war apologies lost in translation

Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko offer a flower wreath at a memorial for the US military as they offer prayers for war victims at Peleliu island in Palau on 9 April 2015. 15 August 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

15 August 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War. It should be a solemn moment for reflection on a terrible episode that took many millions of lives, inflicted untold suffering and had consequences that still profoundly shape our world. Read more…

Remembrance, reconciliation and the East Asian memory wars


Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

‘The past’, as William Faulkner once wrote, ‘is not dead, it isn’t even past’. Nowhere is this more true than in today’s East Asia. The recent ‘memory wars’ between the countries of the region — particularly (though not exclusively) between Japan and its neighbours China and Korea — are eloquent testimony to the power of the past to haunt the present and influence the course of domestic and international politics. Read more…

Japan and the art of un-apologising

A regular rally of former so-called comfort women call for an apology from Japan in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, 22 January 2014. Japan forcibly took tens of thousands of Asian women, mostly Koreans, to battlefields to provide sexual services for the Japanese army during World War II. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

The Japanese government has long had difficulties coming up with effective apologies for the wartime misdeeds of the country’s military. For decades, while many ordinary Japanese grassroots groups worked tirelessly to right the wrongs of the past, the silence from the corridors of power in Tokyo was deafening. Read more…

Comfort women issue is a global human rights problem

Members of South Korean conservative groups protest outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on 1 March 2014. The protest comes after the Japanese government on 28 February said it would review how a previous administration had drawn up a landmark statement on comfort women, who were forced to serve as prostitutes for Japanese soldiers during World War II. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

For the past year, Northeast Asia has been in the grip of a worsening spiral of tensions, provoked by territorial disputes and nationalist statements by political leaders. Careful diplomacy to defuse the deepening crisis is urgently needed. Read more…

Free and fair? NHK and the Tokyo election

Katsuto Momii, new president of public broadcaster NHK, at his inaugural news conference at the start of his three-year term in Tokyo on 25 January 2014. Top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga defended Momii for his remarks at this conference that the use of women as military prostitutes was common worldwide during World War II. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

In an age of media transformation, when commercial broadcasters and newspapers are battling for advertising revenue, the impartiality of public broadcasting is more vital than ever to democratic debate. The appointment of a new leadership to Japan’s national broadcaster, NHK, and its coverage of the upcoming Tokyo election vividly illustrate the possible risks of political intervention in public broadcasting. Read more…

What was Abe thinking, going to Yasukuni?

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to reporters as he visits and offers prayers at the controversial Yasukuni Shrine  in Tokyo on December 26, 2013. The inflammatory visit angered China and South Korea which accused Japan of whitewashing a history. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

When a new Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government headed by Shinzo Abe came to power a year ago, international reactions were deeply divided. Some commentators expressed alarm at the new prime minister’s nationalist rhetoric, and warned of heightened tensions in East Asia. Others, pointing to the experience of Abe’s earlier brief period in power in 2006–07, suggested that, despite the rhetoric, Abe was a pragmatist Read more…