The politics and pitfalls of war memory and apology

| Jul 11, 2015

The politics and pitfalls of war memory and apology

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s handling of history issues during this 70th anniversary of Japan’s World War II defeat came under critical scrutiny at the recent Japanese Studies Association of Australia conference hosted by La Trobe University in Melbourne. Arthur Stockwin, the University of Oxford’s ...

Exhuming Indonesia's horror in search for justice

| Jul 4, 2015

Exhuming Indonesia's horror in search for justice

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Gestapu, the murky events in Indonesia that precipitated a massacre of several hundred thousand people in 1965-66 that constitutes one of the most murderous convulsions of the 20th century. This national trauma remains unresolved within Indonesia as ...

Sri Lanka's memory wars thwart reconciliation

| Jun 27, 2015

Sri Lanka's memory wars thwart reconciliation

Six years after the end of the civil war that claimed at least 70,000 lives between 1983 and 2009, Sri Lanka appears to have made little progress on reconciliation between its ethnic Tamils and Sinhalese majority. In the war-ravaged northern provinces, large swathes of ...

Pipe dreams of a 'grand bargain' in East Asia

| Jun 13, 2015

Pipe dreams of a 'grand bargain' in East Asia

As the 50th anniversary of the normalization of ties between Japan and South Korea approaches, it seems there is little to celebrate. There are all sorts of reasons why Tokyo and Seoul should get along much better, but they don’t. They are both liberal ...

| Jun 6, 2015

History is harsh unless you erase it

On his visit to the United States in April, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addressed Congress and told them: “History is harsh. What was done cannot be undone.” Apparently Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto did not listen to the speech or get the memo. The Osaka ...

| May 30, 2015

The geopolitics of coping with a rising China

Last week I examined the logic and consequences of the “Abe Doctrine,” whereby Japan has beefed up its alliance with the United States by agreeing to expand what it is prepared to do militarily in support of U.S. global security operations. This is not ...

| May 23, 2015

The 'Abe Doctrine' transforms security policy

The ink was barely dry on the new Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation, which were unveiled during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Washington last month, when Sen. John McCain, chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, issued a wake-up call to the ...

| May 16, 2015

Are forces of darkness gathering in Japan?

Certainly it’s worse in China, South Korean security recently beat demonstrators and Spain faces a blanket gag rule, but are concerns about the anti-democratic forces of darkness in Japan unduly alarmist? How bad can it be if protestors in Hibiya Park can carry placards ...

| May 9, 2015

Academics fail Abe administration on history

On May 5, in an open letter in support of historians in Japan, an international group of 187 scholars (of which I am one) urged Japan to acknowledge and atone for the forced prostitution that occurred during wartime, stating: “Denying or trivializing” what happened ...