Sumio Hatano: Understandings of History by Japan


On March 11th, 2016, the 5th North Pavilion Seminar of Institute of International and Strategic Studies (IISS), Peking University (PKU), was held in North Pavilion. Prof. Sumio Hatano, Honorary Professor of University of Tsukuba and Director of Japan Center for Asian Historical Records, was invited to give a lecture on Understandings of History by Japan. The lecture was hosted by Associate Professor Yu Tiejun.

In the 90-minute long lecture, Prof. Sumio Hatano illustrated in details the Japanese government’s attitudes and views towards corresponding historic issues around 3 topics, namely Victims of War and Compensation from the Japanese Government, War Responsibility and Historical Lessons and Post-war Reparation and "Tomiichi talks" . Regarding the first issue, according to Prof. Sumio Hatano, the Japanese government’s compensation after the World War II mainly target Japan-born soldiers, and the compensations for  soldiers  born in Japanese ex-colonies, such as the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan, China , and its civilians suffering losses from the War were significantly less than the former, which violated the internationally prevailing standards, such as Egalitarianism for both Internal and External and International Egalitarianism.

Regarding the second issue, Prof. Hatano interpreted and evaluated the views of the Japanese government and the Japanese people on issues, such as Tokyo Trial, Worshipping at the Yasukuni Shrine, Japan’s history books, etc. In his opinion, there are still disputes in Japan on the nature of these issues. Meanwhile, other Asian countries, such as China and South Korea, have different views on these issues. Media reports and cultural differences were the reasons for the different understandings and misunderstandings.

Regarding the third issue, Prof. Hatano mainly introduced the issue of Comfort Women and the efforts that Japan had made to push the Program of Friendly and Peaceful Exchanges. He pointed out that the post-war reparation and compensation made in the name of the government and the country had been completed with the implementation of the treaty system centered on the San Francisco Treaty of Peace (SFTP). Therefore, the compensation later was nongovernmental, which drew some dissatisfaction and disputes. Besides, Japan had positively promoted a series of programs of friendly and peaceful exchanges from former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, which unfortunately generated little effect.

Finally, Prof. Hatano answered the students’ questions and expressed his wishes to China-Japan friendship.

Following the principle of looking forward into the global trend and exploring the great strategy of China, the “North Pavilion Seminar” series lectures staged by IISS provides a platform for experts, scholars and students in the field of international issue research. The seminar is a long-term exchanging event, so it welcomes all sides to recommend speakers and topics, and put forward advice and suggestions.

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Copyright@2014 Institute of International and Strategic Studies Peking University. All Rights Reserved.