History Wars in the Memory of the World: The Documents of the Nanjing Massacre and the “Comfort Women”

  • Kyung-ho SuhEmail author
Part of the Heritage Studies book series (HEST)


The Memory of the World (MoW) Programme is undergoing a “comprehensive review” as a consequence of the crisis provoked by the actions of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Member States, following the 2015 nomination to the International MoW Register of documents relating to the 1937 Nanjing Massacre. Within the context of the “history wars” that have raged for decades in East Asia, Japan campaigned to block the inscription of documents on the “Comfort Women” system of World War II, nominated in 2017 by an international alliance of NGOs. In early 2018, UNESCO bowed to Japanese pressure, suspending both the operation of the International Register and the implementation of revised MoW General Guidelines and Code of Ethics newly authorized by the Programme’s International Advisory Committee (IAC), thereby calling into question the integrity of its processes as well as the expertise of its document specialists. Such interference in existing policy at the behest of one Member State is unprecedented in UNESCO’s history. The author attempts to create a record of what happened and why, for those engaged in the disciplines of documentary heritage.


Nanjing Massacre “Comfort Women” Wartime atrocities Human rights “History wars” 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Seoul National UniversitySeoulSouth Korea

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