This year will mark the 70th (and not the 60th, as we erroneously refer to in the episode’s introduction) anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Yet, whereas European countries have learnt to live and thrive with each other, this seems far from being the case for Korea and its former colonial master: Japan. Historical disputes are commonplace and the relation between the two states seems to deteriorate year after year.
Why do these historical disputes exist between Japan and Korea? Under which conditions did they develop and why have they not been resolved since the end of the Second World War? In order to answer these questions, we had the privilege of speaking with Professor Kan Kimura.
Professor Kimura obtained his Bachelor’s, Master’s and Phd in Law from Kyoto University, writing his doctoral dissertation on South Korean nationalism. A Professor at Kobe University’s Graduate School of Cooperation Studies since 1997, he was also a visiting scholar at various institutions, including Korea University, the Australian National University and Harvard. Professor Kimura was also a member of the First and Second Japan-Korea Collaborative History Research Committees initially set up by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Korean President Kim Dae-jung to promote “mutual understanding concerning accurate facts and recognition of history.”
We cannot solve that kind of situation just by simple exchanges between Japan and South Korea. Last year, five million people traveled between the two countries and the number of flights between Japan and South Korea is about third or second biggest, after US/Canada. So it is nonsense to expect that more cooperation, more exchanges will help the situation dramatically – because exchanges are big enough […] We have to find new ideas.
The interview was conducted on March 6th in Seoul.