The Newsletter 72 Autumn 2015

Remembering and rewriting seventy years since the end of World War II in Northeast Asia

Joo Yunjeong

As this year, 2015, marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, each country in the Northeast Asia region staged various memorials this summer, on different dates and in different ways. The services included official statements (executed by the presidents and prime ministers of each country), commemorative events (such as parades and exhibitions), and academic conferences held in South Korea, China, Japan, and Taiwan. Such acts of commemoration not only serve to remember the past, but are also anticipated to rewrite the future of the region. Given that the countries of Northeast Asia hold varying perspectives and follow different directions, common ground for regional peace and prosperity can only be found if these differences are better understood. In South Korea, for instance, the meaning of ‘8.15’ has evolved over the past decades as the political powers have changed. In China, on the other hand, a large-scale military parade was held on September 3rd for both internal and external purposes, while in Japan, the repentance speeches about the past have turned into major political events and sources of conflict. In Taiwan, the textbook contents on the history of Japanese colonialism have been under heated discussion.