To view this PAPER PRESENTATION, search for the session title in the Browse by Titlelisting. (See the session title located immediately below ["In Session:"])
In Session: Democratization, Nationalism, and Reconciliation in East Asia: Challenges to Reconciliation Study
3: Nuclear Disarmament as Method: Japan-South Korea Reconciliation in Grassroots History
Friday, March 26, 2021
12:00pm – 1:30pm EDT
Oberlin College, United States
Historian Simon Avenell has argued that Japanese activists engaged with global environmental issues from the 1960s as a means of promoting reconciliation with their counterparts in S. Korea and other areas of Asia formerly colonialized by the Japanese Empire. As part of their opposition to the export of Japanese industrial pollution to other parts of Asia in the postwar period, Japanese citizen groups also interrogated the ethical and material dimensions of Japan’s imperial and militarist past and their individual roles. This paper proposes a similar strategy by grassroots citizens groups in Hiroshima of employing the superordinate goal of nuclear disarmament as part of reconciliation with S. Korea from the 1970s. The paper focuses on two cases studies from Hiroshima. First, former Hiroshima Mayor Hiraoka Takashi (b. 1927) labored during his administration to promote relations with S. Korea, prioritizing cooperation between Hiroshima and S. Korean cities and advocating for Korean a-bomb survivors. Hiraoka rejected victimization narratives in Hiroshima’s museums and used direct language to acknowledge Hiroshima’s past role as a military center. The second case study is writer Fukagawa Munetoshi (1921-2008), an atomic bomb survivor who, from the 1970s, researched the fate of forced Korean labors who survived the nuclear bombing only to perish during repatriation. Fukagawa worked with bereaved families in S. Korea and advocated for compensation for forced Korean workers. These successful projects aiming at grassroots reconciliation highlight the importance of intersections with other social movements, such as the antinuclear movement.