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: FES Japan


EPRIE 2019 - Overcoming the challenges posed by social media: How to make it work for social change?

EPRIE aims to share and exchange perspectives and experiences between East Asia and Europe. In 2018, we examined the challenges posed to the media sector by populism and post-truth politics. This year, together with media practitioners, actors from civil society, scholars and politicians, we will focus on social media as a tool for social change.

Read more

C20 Summit "Promoting Peace, Human Rights and Democratic Governance through the SDG 16+"

Growing inequality, humanitarian crisis and violation of fundamental human rights threaten the international community. As conditions and space for civic society to find solutions to these challenges remain restricted, protecting human rights and the freedom of civic society are crucial. To achieve the SDG 16 focusing on Peace, Human Rights and Democratic Governance the civil society and the world leaders of the G20 must solve global challenges together. During the 2019 Summit "Promoting Peace, Human Rights and Democratic Governance through the SDG 16+" the Tokyo Democracy Forum will review and discuss these challenges within SDG 16 and adopt the Declaration of Tokyo Democracy Forum.




Read more

Lecture "Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Middle Powers Amidst Global Power Shifts"

Less wars, more prosperity—that is a global trend since the end of the Cold War. Yet, illiberalism is increasingly spreading, even in democratic countries, and nationalist populism has come to define the policies of some of the great powers. Do we head towards a world where—to speak with Thucydides—the strong do as they like while the weak do as they must? The most fragile and vulnerable states—the Middle Powers—have to find ways out of the conundrum. To that end, they must find solutions regarding the problems in their own societies.


Dr. Volker Stanzel is the former ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Japan and China and currently serves as the Vice President of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), Senior Distinguished Fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), and President of the Association of German-German-Japanese Societies.


Read more
Graphic: J. Traud

Latest Publications

Publication "The future of the German automotive industry. Transformation by disaster or by design?"

New concepts of digital mobility from China and Silicon Valley and the issue of environmental driving bans for diesel cars pose grave challenges to the traditional German car industry - the backbone of the German economy. German policies must support the transformation of mobility by initiating a stakeholder dialogue to forge a pact for future mobility to transform the German automotive industry.

Read more

"Education and Patriotism" - A Documentary

The TV documentary "Education and Patriotism" (Kyōiku to aikoku) provides a critical look at recent debates surrounding the introduction of moral education in Japanese elementary and middle schools as a new subject and in particular focuses on the compilation, examination, approval and selection of textbooks for classes in moral education, while extending the analysis to the ongoing history textbook controversies.

Read more

Renewable Energy Policies and the Energy Transition in Japan

This report outlines Japan’s renewable energy policy and the state of the energy transition in the country. It includes current prospects for climate change policy and the status of electrical power systems including nuclear power issues, status sand support policy of renewable energy as well as social issues and political feasibility. Furthermore, long-term vision and scenarios for promoting an energy transition are discussed, including community power and credit systems. Finally, policy recommendations are proposed for promoting energy transition in Japan.

Read more