International Symposium "The Contribution of Civil Society to Historical Reconciliation in Europe – Opportunities for a Fresh Look at East Asia’s Politics of History"

In this symposium, we discuss what “transnational non-state actors”, which at times collaborate and at others compete with governments, can do to overcome the burden of the past and promote reconciliation.

In contrast with Europe, where 60 years after World War II major progress has been made toward forging a shared perception of the past, in East Asia history remains a contested area. Accusations and denials about incidents, some of which date back more than a century, are traded frequently and publicly by the region’s top leaders. Territorial disputes linked to a troubled past stand in the way of improved relations between Japan and all of its neighbors: China, Korea and Russia. Public opinion surveys show that recent disagreements about history have eroded the friendly feelings Japanese and Chinese once had for each other. It is clear that without progress on the history question, regional economic integration and continent-wide security arrangements that have made possible prosperity and peace in Europe will be difficult to replicate in East Asia.
At this time of strained feelings about the past, research on the key role of civil society organizations in achieving historical reconciliation in postwar Europe offers opportunities to take a fresh look at the history problem in East Asia. While visionary leaders such as Willy Brandt, Konrad Adenauer, Jean Monnet and Robert Schumann pointed the way ahead, the building of bridges to former enemies and victims was done by churches, labor unions, local governments, sports clubs, student organizations, journalists and various types of foundations which worked together with counterparts in neighboring countries. Although East Asia lags behind Europe in development of civil society organizations, in Japan and South Korea NGOs are beginning to play a greater role in both domestic politics and international affairs. In China too, the government has begun to encourage the growth of non-profit organizations.
In this symposium, we will discuss what “transnational non-state actors”, which at times collaborate and at others compete with governments, can do to overcome the burden of the past. Scholars and practitioners from the United States, Europe and Japan will tackle this question with a view to stimulating new ideas on historical issues in the hope of finding policies and practices appropriate to East Asian needs and circumstances.

Date: Friday, 7 April 2006, 12:30-17:00
Place: German Culture Center (OAG-Haus)

Organized by:
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
International Center for the Study of Historical Reconciliation at Tokyo Keizai University
NGO Interband

Supported by:
Goethe Institute Japan in Tokyo

Japan Office

7-5-56 Akasaka
Tokyo, 107-0052

+03 6277-7551
+03 3588-6035


Photo: Conference, FES Japan


German-Japanese Economy Dialogue

During the visit of Mr. Wolfgang Tiefensee, State Minister of Economy, Science and the Digital Society in the government of Thuringia, the Japanese-German dialogue on economic policy was deepened. Minister Tiefensee met with Diet Members and researchers in Tokyo.


Read more

EPRIE 2017- Exchange Program For Regional Integration In East Asia And Europe

EPRIE 2017 will take a closer look at global migration patterns as well as differences and similarities between migration policies in Europe and East Asia.

Read more

Symposium "Ageing Societies and Legal Approaches"

Germany and Japan are both confronting substantial social and political challenges of an increasingly aging society. Their goal is to find sustainable solutions, particularly with regards to social and labor rights. Among important objectives in this field are generational equity, financial viability of the social security system, and prevention of age discrimination. By comparing both countries’ legal frameworks, resolutions and strategies on the issue, potential problems can be uncovered and possibly avoided.

Read more
Graphic: Publications, J. Traud

Latest Publications

Study "Social Innovation Polcy for Industry 4.0"

The concept of “Industry 4.0” outlines the vision of a smart factory, which is characterised by the complete networking of all production parts and processes: real time control via ITC and the increased use of robots, which control themselves, are developments that should contribute to greater productivity through resource efficiency. The shift is already under way and the concept of Industry 4.0 is shaping the digital discourse in Germany.

Read more

Interview "House of Representatives Elections 2017"

Interview with Sven Saaler regarding the 2017 House of Represenatives election and the trouble of the largest opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan.

Read more

Commentary "House of Representatives Elections 2017"

In the 2017 House of Representatives election, the LDP could again win a clear victory. The opposition was more divided than ever, after the break-up of the Democratic Party, and could not pose a serious challenge to the Abe government.

Read more