The History Issue in East Asia 2019

This course is now finished.


Week 1: Introduction (8 April)

Lecture Materials: 20190408 HIEA Intro

Online Materials: Statement by Prime Minister Abe (14 August 2015)

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Syllabus: 412057-多言語・多文化社会論研究A

Grading Rubric: Politics of History in East Asia Assessment, Video Series “Writing Academic Essays at University”


Week 2: Japan’s Decision to Go To War (15 April)

Lecture Materials: 20190415 HIEA 2 Road to War

Reading for Homework: Go to the library and read a general history of prewar Japan (possibilities include work by Andrew Gordon, Elise K. Tipton, Brett Walker, James Huffman, S.C.M. Paine etc. etc.) to familiarize yourself with the history of the period. Open access online resources include: Jeffrey Record, “Japan’s Decision for War in 1941”, Richard J. Smethurst, “Japan, the United States, and the Road to World War II in the Pacific”, Yoshizawa Tatsuhiko, “The Manchurian Incident, the League of Nations, and the Origins of the Pacific War”.

Week 3: First Debate (22 April)

The motion is “Japan had no choice but to go to war in 1941 against the US and Britain”

Homework: Decide the topic for your active learning assignment. Prepare to give a short (30 second) oral explanation in class on 6 May, and start working on the assignment in preparation for submission on 17 June.


Week 4: Japanese Apologies (6 May)

Class discussion: Under what conditions is an apology considered sincere and valid? Have Japanese apologies for WWII met these conditions? Can Japan reach a point where it “no longer needs to apologize”?

Let’s consider words of apology in the following statements: Kono 1993, Diet Resolution 1995, Murayama 1995, Koizumi 2005, Kan 2010.  How do these compare with the Abe statement of 2015?

And how do these compare with the statements at the Memorial Ceremony for the War Dead? Kan 2010, Abe 2013.

Homework: Prepare for the debate next week about whether Japan has paid sufficient compensation. Start with the official government position here and the various other statements concerning Issues Regarding History. The “comfort women” issue has stirred most debate. See the Asian Women’s Fund, Documents relating the the 1965 Basic Treaty,  Asahi Newspaper special, APJ Fact Sheet, Women’s Active Peace Museum, Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact. And “settling the dispute” (again) in December 2015.

Week 5: Second Debate (13 May)

The motion is “Japan has not paid sufficient compensation for its actions during the Asia-Pacific War.”


Week 6: The Yasukuni Shrine Issue (20 May)

Lecture Materials: 20190520 HIEA Yasukuni

Reading for Homework: Prepare for the debate next week. Read the research of Akiko Takenaka and John Breen. They have also published the two key books on the topic in English. A leading Japanese critic is Takahashi Tetsuya: see The National Politics of the Yasukuni Shrine. For the pro-Yasukuni position, visit the Yasukuni Shrine website. Finally, search for other materials online. They’re easy to find!

Week 7: Third Debate (27 May)

The motion is: “The Japanese Prime Minister should worship at Yasukuni Shrine on 15 August every year.”


Week 8: The End of the War and Occupation (3 June)

Lecture Materials: 20190603 HIEA Occupation

Reading for Homework: Prepare for the debate next week. Read about the A-bombs (Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum) and air raids (The Firebombing of Tokyo and its Legacy). See also debates about Japan’s decision to surrender involving Tsuyoshi Hasegawa and the American official position.

Week 9: Fourth Debate (10 June)

The motion is: “The A-bombs did not force Japan to surrender.”


Week 10: Postwar Relations and Territorial Disputes (17 June, ACTIVE LEARNING DEADLINE)

Lecture Materials: 20190617 Postwar Relations

Links used in class: The Path of a Nation Striving for Global Peace, The Constitution of Japan, BBC World Service Poll 2014, Globescan Poll 2017

Reading for Homework: Prepare for the debate next week. Read materials you can find about the three territorial disputes (finding materials is not a problem!), including: the Japanese official position, Reinhard Drifte’s article on the Senkaku dispute, Mark Selden’s article on the Dokdo/Takeshima dispute, Georgy Buntilov’s article on the Northern Territories dispute.


Week 11: Make-up class activity (24 June). Philip Seaton is away. Please use the 90-minute class time to do the following activity. Write a 500-word commentary on the Statement by Prime Minister Abe (14 August 2015) using insights into the “history issue” you have learned during this course. Submission deadline, 8 July.

Week 12: Fifth Debate (1 July)

The motion is “The Senkaku Islands, Takeshima, and the Northern Territories are Japanese territory.”


Week 13: Is Overcoming the Past Possible? Summary (8 July, END-OF-TERM REPORT DEADLINE)

Concluding discussion: What can be done to contain, resolve or otherwise “deal with” the so-called “history issue”?

Let’s revisit the Abe statement. Plus, what do we make of all the latest developments? Korean boycotts of Japanese goods, Abe’s moves on Northern Territories, Okinawa commemorations on 23 June, A Comfort Women documentary causing a stirEnd of the Comfort Women fund (2015 version)