Walkers of Whitehall
15 Whitehall, Westminster, London SW1A 2DD
Different people tell different versions of the same history, sometimes because they disagree on the facts, and sometimes because they disagree on how to interpret them. People have different perspectives, and their versions of history may be driven by conflicting interests in the present. But although history may be contested, we have a responsibility to build peace with our neighbours, for the benefit of both present and future generations.
Japan, China and the two Koreas have struggled to understand each other’s different perspectives on historical issues, and this has been preventing constructive diplomatic dialogue between them. On hearing that Moon Jae-in had been elected as the new President of South Korea, some Japanese politicians expressed pessimism about the future of the Japan-ROK relationship, because Mr Moon had pledged in his electoral campaign to abandon the 2015 agreement by Foreign Ministers Fumio Kishida and Yun Byung-se over WWII’s so-called ‘Comfort Women’. This historical issue has long created difficulties between the two countries. Meanwhile China has been creating tensions with several of its neighbours by challenging their sovereignty over various islands. Historical issues are involved here too.
In this seminar, the speakers will talk about the difficulties of handling historical issues affecting the region, which seem to have increased over the last decade. They will discuss what can be done to build peace in North East Asia for future generations.
About the contributors:
1. Professor Akio Takahara is Professor of Contemporary Chinese Politics at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Law and Politics. He served as President of the Japan Association for Asian Studies (2009-11) and as Secretary-General of the New Japan-China Friendship 21st Century Committee (2009-14).
2. Dr Lauren Richardson is a Teaching Fellow in Japanese-Korean Relations and Politics at the University of Edinburgh. She has been a visiting fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs and Keio University and has participated in a number of security and strategic dialogues in the Asia Pacific.
3. Professor Steve Tsang is the Director of the SOAS China Institute. He has published very extensively on the politics, international relations, security and history of the Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong. He has developed an analytical concept called ‘consultative Leninism’ for understanding the nature of politics in the People’s Republic of China.
4. Dr John Nilsson-Wright is the Fuji Bank University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations at the University of Cambridge. His research focuses on East Asian international relations, with a particular interest in the relationship between the USA and Japan during the Cold War, as well as contemporary regional security issues, and political changes in the region. He has been a visiting researcher at a number of East Asian universities, including Tohoku University in Japan, and Seoul National University in South Korea.
5. Dan Damon (Chair) is a BBC journalist and radio broadcaster who presents World Update for the BBC World Service.Damon reported from conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia, Baghdad during the first Gulf War, and Afghanistan. He then returned to the BBC in 1995 to work as a presenter and reporter for the BBC World Service and BBC Radio 4. In 2003 Damon became the main presenter of World Update on the BBC World Service.
REMINDER: Please arrive at 6pm to clear security at the Houses of Parliament.