Diversified and Globalized Memories: The Limits of State-Sponsored History Commissions in East Asia
East Asian “history problems” emerged in the early 1980s, reflecting substantial changes both in the international relations and the domestic politics of China, Korea, and Japan. Since the mid-1990s, Japanese history education has witnessed a nationalist backlash. Aware of the menace of history disputes, Japanese, South Korean, and Chinese governments launched official history commissions, which revealed a deep gap in their historical understanding. At the nongovernmental level, however, there were more fruitful moves. Teachers and activists from the three countries published a jointly written, “A History That Opens to the Future” (2005). It demonstrated the possibility of building a transnational historical understanding through listening to the other’s voices even on controversial issues such as the Nanjing Massacre and the US dropping of the atomic bomb.
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