Opinion

International

Creation of Reconciliation Studies
Working toward a Shared Civic Awareness for Resolving the Problems of East Asia

Toyomi Asano
Professor, Faculty of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University

The sense of morality and justice among modern people cannot exist without being influenced by a sense of membership of a "good national citizen". It is also important to consider the universal civic values related to human rights. This raises the question—can universal civic values that have nothing to do with national values exist? Is it possible to completely disregard national values for the purpose of realizing universal civic values? Furthermore, is it possible to reconcile conflicting national values, and with that foundation, make the reconciliation contribute to the promotion of really universal values?

With these questions in mind, the Creation of Reconciliation Studies project has started in order to pioneer a new field of scholarship. Officially called "The Creation of Reconciliation Studies—In Pursuit of Reconciliation with Justice", the program was newly selected for the Scientific Research on Innovative Areas in 2017. The key to introducing reconciliation studies, a new field of study, begins with exploring the conflict resolution studies and the transitional justice theory developed in the West. With an understanding of these studies developed in the West with the general studies of international relations theory, comparative politics and sociology, the basic concept of reconciliation studies is to interweave these concepts with the unique historical context of East Asia where national values are held in high regard. The end goal of reconciliation studies is to construct a social system mixed with new scholarship that serves as the social foundation on which each citizen can imagine reconciliation each in their own way, the same way the nation as a whole is imagined.

Part of this project is a plan to have five research planning teams. The arrangement of these teams will conform to the five bodies that sustain justice from a national perspective, which include the government, intellectuals, media and citizens. We want to clarify the structures of national values. And if possible, we want to propose a model of intellectual infrastructure for making people being capable of imagining the reconciliation among contested nations, and to help shape cultural and educational policies that are aimed toward shared civic awareness among citizens of East Asia, based upon the really universal values that would be surported by the reconciliation.

Allow me to provide detailed explanations on each team.

The Government and Diplomacy Team (represented by Sumio Hatano of the University of Tsukuba) and the Citizen Activism Team (represented by Masaru Tonomura of the University of Tokyo) deal with empirical research related to reconciliation. The former focuses on governments, delving into the question of how the framework of normalizing diplomatic relations following the intergovernmental reconciliation created during the Cold War confined citizen activism and national sentiments that pursued national justice. On the other hand, the latter focuses on citizens that raised objections to this framework, closely examining how these governmental confinements destabilized as citizens voiced their objections in the aftermath of the Cold War, and what kind of images of reconciliation and justice existed within citizen activist movements. Both will examine the political situation in which what we call "just reconciliation" is imagined, and how citizens chased for another type of "just reconciliation".

Next are the Historian Network Team (represented by Liu Jie of Waseda University) and the Reconciliation Culture and Remembrance Team (represented concurrently by the total field representative), which focus on analyzing symbols and discources. These two teams focus on new trials in the 1990s concerning the historical problems, facing democratization and globalization that followed the end of the Cold War. Through retrospective inspection of governmental and social structures of reconciliation, these teams examine why these new trials caused widespread dysfunction. The former focuses on historical collaborative research projects established by intergovernmental agreements, while the latter focuses on the rise and decline of joint transnational productions of movies, television dramas and other media.

The thought and Theory Team (represented by Naoyuki Umemori of Waseda University) explores the current state of universal values that has become unified with national sentiments, as well as the conditions of how reconciliation is imagined, by connecting the empirical studies of other teams with background of historical and cultural characteristics that are unique to East Asia.

National reconciliation based in the historical context of East Asian relations—aiming to envision reconciliation = collaboration with the aim of pursuing universal values based on national reconciliation—network of intelligence and sentiments

The teams output as detailed above to would contribute to the construction of stronger international cooperation. We believe that this will lead to constructing a human network that supports a type of intellectual infrastructure that can be considered a necessary condition that makes people being capable of imagining reconciliation among nations.

As a part of the achievements, we want to organize an online historical encyclopedia that includes general historical conflicts of the world and historical problems of East Asia, tentatively titled Historical Dictionaly of Global Conflicts. Furthermore, we plan to organize the research results in an English series, tentatively titled Series of Reconciliation Studies. We also plan to publish a practical, comprehensive textbook in Japanese titled Reconciliation Studies. Furthermore, as a human network hub, we want to appeal to the public, especially to younger people, to continue adding substance to research related to reconciliation studies.

In the future, if the world would fall further into the vicious cycle of nationalism, the aggressive pursuit of responsibility for old centuries colonialism shall eventually reach Western nations as well. When that time comes, the expertise and research results gathered through reconciliation studies will prove to yield many lessons even for the West. At the core of the meaning behind the creation of reconciliation studies is communicating this common global field of study to the world. Based in Waseda University, this project takes on the mission of investigating the problems and examining the achievability of constructing a new type of international relations in East Asia that shall genuinely be surported by the constructed norms upon the imagination of reconciliation.

The four factors of reconciliation studies analysis and interdisciplinary structure

Toyomi Asano
Professor, Faculty of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University

Toyomi Asano is a professor teaching Japanese political history in the Faculty of Political Science and Economics at Waseda University. He is an expert in the history of Japanese foreign policy and international relations in East Asia. He credits the normalization of diplomatic relations between post-war Japan and Asian countries to the reorganization process by the United States and the dismantling of the Empire of Japan, and takes a historically unique approach at looking at the issue of reparations. Some of his published works include Teikoku Nihon no Shokuminchi Hosei—Hoiki Togo to Teikoku Chitsujo (Japanese Empire in the Nation State System by Legal Analysis— Jurisdiction Unification and Imperial Order) (Nagoya University Press, 2008: Recipient of the Ohira Masayoshi Award and the Yoshida Shigeru Award), and Sengo Nihon no Baisho Mondai to Higashi Asia Chi-iki Saihen (The Issues of Reparations in Post-war Japan and the Reorganization of East Asia) (Jigakusha Publishing, 2013). In March 1988, he graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of Tokyo with a degree in international relations. From 1998 to 2000, he was an assistant at the Waseda Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies. Then, after working as a professor at the School of International Liberal Studies at Chukyo University, and as a Wilson Center Fellow in the U.S., he assumed his current post in April 2015.