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Home > Special Topics > Activity Report Last Updated: 14:25 04/08/2008
Activity Report #95: April 8, 2008

Role of the Media in History Debates in Europe and Asia

Takahiro MIYAO (Professor and Head, Japanese Institute of Global Communications, IUJ)

Historical Reconciliation Symposium Series
Date/Time:April 5, 2008; 10:00 17:30
Place:Goethe-Institut Japan, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Program: International Symposium:
Peacemakers or Powder Monkeys the Role of Media in Post-WWII History Debates in Europe and Northeast Asia

Andrew Horvat (Visiting Professor, Tokyo Keizai University)
Keynote speakers:
Chung Ku-Chong (President, dongA.com)
Haruki Wada (Professor Emeritus, University of Tokyo)
Hans-Robert Eisenhauer (ZDF/ARTE)
Yoshibumi Wakamiya (Columnist, Asashi Shimbun)
Iris Georlette (Correspondent, Haaretz.com)
Masahiko Motoki (President, OhMyNews Japan)
Shigenori Kanehira (News Division President, TBS)
William Horsley (Former BBC Bureau Chief, Tokyo)
Saaler Sven (University of Tokyo)
Yasushi Kudo (Representative, Genron NPO)
Park Cheol-Hee (Associate Professor, Seoul National University)
Sponsors: Friedrich Ebert Foundation, International Center for the Study of Historical Reconciliation at Tokyo Keizai University, Goethe-Institut Japan in Tokyo

As the third meeting in the series of historical reconciliation in Northeast Asia, Professor Andrew Horvat organized an international symposium on the role of the media in post-war history debates in Europe and Asia by inviting key media representatives in Japan and abroad, including Mr. Hans-Robert Eisenhauer (ARTE) from Germany. The following is a summary of the symposium:

Main themes: Peacemakers or Powder Monkeys the Role of Media in Post-WWII History Debates in Europe and Northeast Asia

Session 1: The Internet, Bridge or Barrier to Historical Reconciliation

Dr. Chung Ku-Chong (President, dongA.com)First, Dr. Chung Ku-Chong (President, dongA.com) made a presentation concerning some positive and negative effects of the Internet on the relationship between South Korea's relations and Japan with reference to his website (see the reference below) as a good example and his own proposal that a joint East Asian website be created for the purpose of promotion of mutual understandings and historical reconciliation among South Korea, China and Japan.

Tokyo University Emeritus Professor Haruki WadaThen, Tokyo University Emeritus Professor Haruki Wada as former director of Asian Women's Fund showed in detail the "Digital Museum on the Comfort Women Issue" (see the reference below), where almost all official documents and related materials on this issue are compiled in Japanese and English with approval of relevant agencies and individuals.

As discussants, Ms. Iris Georlette (blogger, Haaretz.com) emphasized the usefulness of blogs to publish non-commercial materials of historical significance such as "the Holocaust," and Mr. Masahiko Motoki (President of OhMyNews-Japan) pointed out some difficulties in creating and maintaining citizen's journalism in Japan, where serious debates tend to be avoided.

dongA.com (English); http://english.donga.com/
Asian Women's Fund (Digital Museum: Comfort Women Issue); http://www.awf.or.jp/

Session 2: The Art of ARTE; Telling the Same Story to Two Audiences

Mr. Hans-Robert Eisenhauer (ZDF/ARTE, Germany)At the outset of the afternoon session, the main guest for this symposium, Mr. Hans-Robert Eisenhauer (ZDF/ARTE, Germany), gave a keynote speech about how such a publicly funded joint German-French TV network as ARTE was made possible in the context of historical reconciliation processes in postwar Europe, as compared to the situation in East Asia in this regard.

While praising Mr. Eisenhauer's efforts and contributions for promotion of European reconciliation, the two discussants presented their somewhat critical views on further developments and applications, especially outside Europe. Mr. William Horsley (former BBC bureau chief, Tokyo & Bonn) showed general concerns about political pressure on the media in today's world and, in that context, expressed some reservation about the independence (or at least, its perception from the outside) of the state-sponsored ARTE TV station. Then Mr. Shigenori Kanehira (News Division President, TBS), after taking a critical look at recent incidents against the freedom of speech in Japan, gave a rather pessimistic view on the possibility of developing a government-funded international TV station in East Asia for various reasons, although he concluded that he would do his best in organizing private TV stations for a social cause in Japan and East Asia.

ARTE (Wikipedia Information); http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arte

Session 3: Can Journalists be Peacemakers?

Mr. Yoshibumi Wakamiya (Asahi Shimbun)In contrast to the previous session, a more optimistic view with productive suggestions was given by the speaker and the two panelists in this session. Mr. Yoshibumi Wakamiya (Asahi Shimbun) gave his thoughts on journalism and nationalism in connection with his personal and professional involvement in Korean affairs, and emphasized the importance of long-term human contacts across national borders in all modesty for oneself with high respects for others, in order for one's opinions to be heard by others in the international community, and maintained that Japan's relations with neighboring countries are not as bad as they appear to be.

Mr. Yasushi Kudo (Representative, Genron NPO) echoed Mr. Wakamiya's sentiment by referring to his enduring efforts on the annual Tokyo-Beijing Forum series, where not propaganda but "hon-ne" opinions can be expressed on the both sides for common understandings and mutual benefits. Similarly, Prof. Park Cheol-Hee (Seoul National University) explained about the current situation in South Korea with more diversity in opinion and attitude than might be imagined from outside, and the possibility of building more productive relations between the two countries, if journalists help create positive imaginations, inspirations and ideas instead of negative images, impressions and ideologies.

Yoshibumi Wakayama's Books: http://www.allbookstores.com/search?type=any&q=Yoshibumi+Wakamiya&Go.x=11&Go.y=17
Mr. Wakayama's Video; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F12Yv5A4SuU

Prof. Andrew HorvatFinally, there was a Q&A Session with the audience, moderated by Prof. Andrew Horvat, who concluded the symposium by thanking all the participants for productive and impressive presentations and discussions.

This report is adopted from the following blog (with its Japanese translation):

Copyright © Japanese Institute of Global Communications