Remembrance, reconciliation and the East Asian memory wars

SOUTH KOREA JAPAN PROTESTS

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…

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…

Testing times for North Korea

South Korean protesters stage a rally demanding a peaceful resolution to the North Korean nuclear crisis near the US Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, on Tuesday 19 February 2013. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

North Korea’s latest nuclear test has, both literally and figuratively, sent seismic shockwaves around Northeast Asia.

The negative repercussions of the test will be most directly felt by the long-suffering people of North Korea itself, who desperately need the better living conditions that can only be achieved through increased international cooperation. Read more…

North Korea: small signs of spring?

This undated picture, released by Korean Central News Agency on 15 October 2012 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reacting to the audience in the meeting for celebrating the 65th anniversary of Mangyongdae Revolutionary School and Kang Pan-sok Revolutionary School in Pyongyang. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

Ever since its formation in the 1950s, the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, which represents pro-DPRK members of Japan’s ethnic Korean minority, has sent lavish gifts to North Korea to mark national celebrations.

Read more…