This series invites specialists in various fields to talk about timely issues and issues for Japanese society as seen through comparison between Japan and other countries. The theme of lectures will be varied, such as politics, economy, diplomacy, and culture. In principle, each lecture is held in either English or Japanese without interpretation.
Victimhood Nationalism versus Mnemonic Solidarity:
History Reconciliation in East Asia
This event now concluded. Report available here.
- *This program has finished.
- Lecturer: Lim Jie-Hyun (Professor, Sogang University)
- Discussant: Torsten Weber (Senior Research Fellow, German Institute for Japanese Studies)
- Moderator: Ashiwa Yoshiko (Professor, Hitotsubashi University)
- Date: Tuesday, July 3, 2018, 7:00-8:30 pm (Doors open at 6:30 pm)
- Venue: Lecture Hall, International House of Japan
- Language: English (without Japanese interpretation)
- Admission: 1,000 yen (students: 500 yen, IHJ members: free)
- Seating: 100 (reservations required)
Professor Lim, who proclaims himself to be a memory activist, has delved into transnational history beyond boundaries of nationality and ethnic group. At the I-House Lecture on July 3, he talked about history reconciliation and memory issues in East Asia.
The Holocaust at Auschwitz and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima are two of the biggest and worst calamites of World War II, but a peace march was conducted between these two cities, Professor Lim noted. Organized in the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962, by Sato Gyotsu at Nipponzan Myohoji temple, a Japanese army veteran who devoted himself as a peace activist after the war, the Hiroshima-Auschwitz peace march was fulfilled on January 27, 1963, coincidentally on the very same day of the Auschwitz liberation. Professor Lim valued this march as “really rare (in the sense that) one can see solidarity of victims in Auschwitz and Hiroshima even during the Cold War.”
“Now in 2018, 55 years after the peace march, how has ‘mnemonic solidarity’ developed?” Professor Lim, who revealed the lecture’s starting point was this question, clarified that in the 1970s and ’80s a nationalism of heroes dominated but since the 1990s a nationalism of victims has been escalating instead, explaining the reason as “they need to be recognized as innocent to gather international interest.” Nowadays, the phenomenon is heating up in a competing in number of victims, a hierarchization or nationalization of victims, around the world, he noted.
For instance, he pointed that, for part of the people of Poland, where 3 million Jewish lost their lives during World War II, it matters a lot whether total Polish victims number 5 million or 6 million, since non-Jewish citizens are resisting their suffering being seen as less than that of Jewish citizens. Furthermore, speaking of the nationalization of victims, he cited non-American victims as an example of those who have been forgotten in the memory of the September 11 attacks.
Professor Lim noted this kind of nationalism of victims has limits. He provided a new path to reconciliation in East Asia based on history issues with these words: “Memories are not a zero-sum game. By recognizing other’s suffering or victims, we may increase our sensibilities on our own suffering. I think that if we take the multidirectional memory approach perhaps we may reach a certain memory solidarity.”
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