Historical Reconciliation in Northeast Asia: Can the United States Play a Role?

Monday, October 22, 2012
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Philippines Conference Room

Northeast Asia has witnessed growing intra-regional interactions, especially in the realms of culture and economy. Yet wounds from past wrongs—committed during colonialism and war—are not fully healed and the question of history has become heated across Northeast Asia.  East Asians have recognized the need for reconciliation and sought to achieve that goal through various tactics—apology politics, litigation, joint history writing, and regional exchanges. While each had its own merit none have succeeded and all nations, sharing a reluctance to fully confront the complexity of that past, tend to blame others. With the increased salience of the history question in Northeast Asian regional relations, a growing body of works, both academic and policy-oriented, addresses this issue.  However, much of the discourse treats the history question as an intra-Asian issue and neglects to involve the U.S. as a central variable. A predominant view among U.S. officials has been that this is primarily a matter for Asians. However, the United States can hardly afford to stand outside these disputes and we need to explore how the U.S. can play a constructive role in facilitating historical reconciliation in the region.