Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Historical Issues in Japanese Diplomacy Toward Neighboring Countries

Here is what Shuji Shimokoji 2002-2003 Fellow
Weatherhead Center for International Affairs,
Harvard University wrote May 2003:

Quotes :



Issues and Responses for the Future

As the above analysis has revealed, the problems of the
past or historical issues� between Japan and its Asian
neighbors had been considered resolved in the 1970s but
were rekindled in the 1980s and have burst forth
periodically since then. Diverging views on the means by
which World War II should be ended lie in the background
of this problem. Japan sought approval for settling the
war by legalistic, traditional means that were ordinary
at the time.

The Japanese people accepted the government methods as
ordinary and believed that it would be accepted
internationally as well. However, in the 1980s,
unexpected incidents led the problem to surface, and
Japan was criticized internationally for not having
settled its past. However, Japanese domestic political
forces were clearly instrumental in amplifying these
voices, also complicating the problem in terms of
domestic politics and making it difficult to resolve.

As problems of the past develop, controversies deepen,
and even the methods by which the past was settled come
under question. This can be seen in the individual
reparations claims by so-called comfort women, and the
issue of forced labor during World War II that has
become a major problem in recent years. With the spread
of human rights and an increasing tendency to review
problems of the past with today human rights
sensibilities, this problem has become even more complex
to solve practically, as it encompasses a whole range of
issues. Practically, to solve a complex problem, the
proliferation of points of contention needs to be
prevented. From this point of view, it seems we have no
choice but to use our current sensibilities to resolve
problems stemming from World War II. In this sense, any
problems left unresolved should be settled as soon as

To resolve problems of some complexity, the solution
cannot help but be vague on some points. In particular,
for problems of the past, to prove anything obviously
becomes difficult as time passes, to review once again
matters that have already been settled threatens legal
stability, and to unnecessarily complicate problems can
only be termed unproductive behavior. I believe some
tolerance is necessary toward vagueness in solutions to
problems of the past.

Bibliography Awaya, Kentaro. War Responsibilities,
Postwar Responsibilities [Senso sekinin, sengo sekinin].
Asahi Sensho 1994. Buruma, Ian. The Wages of Guilt. New
York: Meridian, 1995. Furukawa, Mantaro. Sino-Japanese
Relations after World War II [Nicchu sengo kankeishi].
Hara Shobo 1988. Kisa, Yoshio. What Is War
Responsibility? [Senso sekinin� towa nanika] Chuko
Shinsho 2001. Liu, Deyou. Tokiwa Nagarete. vol. 2.
Fujiwara Shoten 2002. Tanaka, Nobuhisa. Postwar History
of Yasukuni [Yasukuni no sengoshi]. Iwanami Shinsho

end of quotes

It won't make it with "Neighboring Countries... "

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