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Sunday, February 07, 2010

中日历史共同研究取得进展 China-Japan Joint History Research Committee Released Research Papers

China-Japan Joint History Research Committee concluded the first phase of the history research project and released research papers. These papers include historical events that have have often been disputed, including the Nanjing Massacre. Some agreements have also been reached between scholars from the two countries, like the understanding that Japan waged a war of aggression against China.

These papers can be downloaded from MOFA website (Japanese and Chinese version):

Bu Ping, the coordinator of the Chinese side and the director of the Contemporary History Institute of Chinese Social Science Academy, was interviewed by XinHua News of China. Here is the report from Xinhua News (in Chinese)

and our English translation:

The history issues catch attention in China and Japan, since the Sino-Japan history research program achieved its partial goals. Bu Ping, Director of the Contemporary History Institutes of the Social Science Academy of China, says that understandings of the Sino-Japan War have long been a problem, deteriorating relations between China and Japan. We expect that this research program can sort out historical facts in academic studies, analyzing the causes of the different historical understanding, facilitating bilateral communication, and building a friendly relationship.

  共同历史研究 原则问题已达成共识

---Consensus has been reached at the basic level by studying history together

The Sino-Japan war was over more than 60 years ago, but some Japanese deny the aggressiveness of the war, and this has been the barrier of the friendship between the two countries. In October 2010, leaders of the two countries agreed to launch a research program of contemporary history together. Each side provided a committee of ten historians, divided into two groups of ancient history and contemporary history studies, and started a study program in November of the same year.

According to Bu, this program has two unique characters: 1) Studies have been done on the same topics, which are strictly and clearly defined to both sides; 2) Discussions are widely held on important topics. Each article has been revised several times according to the opinions from the opposite sides. This program is conducted under the principle of “Under the same topic, exchanging opinions widely, discussing fully, but expressing separately.” Although the final papers are released separately, it is still a great improvement because scholars from the two countries have been able to directly face the key problems and challenge each other.

According to Bu, the scholars had intensive discussions on the character of the Sino-Japan War. Both publications have clearly indicated: the Sino-Japan war (1931 - 1945) was a war of aggression, which Japan imposed on China; this war of aggression brought significant loss and damage to Chinese people; and wars shall be condemned and peace shall be maintained. Japanese scholars confirmed that Japanese militarism brought significant suffering to Chinese people, and the war-crimes committed by the Japanese Army are still barriers in the China-Japan relations. They also recognized that, in recent years, the law suits that have been filed regarding the biological weapons, abandoned chemical weapons, forced labour, and the sex crimes against women represent the scars of the war that are still bleeding.


---Don’t let disputes in academic studies damage the bilateral relations.

Bu comments: "Academic disputes are common in the process of learning. We shall not let the academic disputes deter our bilateral relations."
“We should allow disputes to exist in the academic world. We have different angles of viewing the question and different ways of accessing information, so it is unavoidable that we have disputes on the details of the issues. These academic disputes shall not be amplified as the gap between the two countries. We need mutual study programs like this.”
“Now when we talk about the disputes on historical issues, problems exist in three aspects: 1) political decision making, 2) academic studies, and 3) the emotion of the general public. Right now, these three aspects entangle each other, making the issue extremely complicated. We should rethink about the relations between the three aspects, and decide which one we should work on first. This study program aims at solving the academic aspect of the history issues first, so we can provide an intellectual base of rational judgement for dealing with the other two aspects of the history issues. Academic history studies are valuable, because we can provide a comprehensive and accurate record of history events to the public.”
“Academic research is always a long process. We need time. But we don’t need to wait till we have the final answer. We shall start building a friendly relationship now.”


--- Show our tolerance to the historical disputes:

Bu says, “The premise of this research program is that Japan recognizes its war responsibility, and we should learn a lesson from the history, for the sake of a peaceful future. This premise has been well recognized by both sides.”
“Now, China is growing very fast. Our citizens also should have a sense of being a member of a responsible major country. We should be more tolerant and confident. To the history issues, we should view it from a higher place (rather than the lower level nationalistic views). If we can first reach reconciliation with the progressive members of the Japanese society, we can unite all the victims of the war in Asia and condemn the war together. Then we can align ourselves with all the international peace-loving forces, and then we can finally solve disputes on the history issues and create an everlasting peace. In that process, Japanese right-wing conservatives won't be able to deny the war of aggression anymore. ”

For more information, here is a collection of initial reactions from the media, in Japanese, Chinese, and English, compiled by George Washington University's "Memory and Reconciliation in the Asia-Pacific" website.

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