GPF Japan Hosts Online Seminar to Advance Japan-South Korea Reconciliation

Eric Olsen
September 23, 2021

“I would like to pass down one type of philosophy: the Japan-South Korea Model for Reconciliation, Prosperity and Peace,” said Dr. Kizo Ogura, a professor at the Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies at Kyoto University, at a recent two-part online seminar hosted by Global Peace Foundation Japan.

Kizo Ogura

Dr. Kizo Ogura, a professor at the Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies at Kyoto University

The theme of the seminar, “A New View of Humanity to Build East Asia,” addressed the complex and evolving relationship between Japan and South Korea.

Dr. Ogura described a new idea of “multi-subjectivism” for developing peaceful relationships. He said that people of oppressed countries perceive modern times as an era of resentment and that “the identities of all ‘other-related people’ are included in multi-subjectivism.”

Japanese people need to be more aware of their perceptions, Dr. Ogura urged. If people accept the significance of a particular viewpoint, especially in Japan and Korea, they can avoid extreme misunderstanding about the other and instead find a lot of similarities.

It is important to understand that Japan tried to impose the unique identity of Japan onto Korean people when Japan annexed Korea, he said. Although Japan and South Korea had such difficult experiences in the past, the lessons learned by the two countries could benefit other parts of the world, he emphasized. “Efforts by both countries were made to try and resolve historical issues. It is important to recognize the amount of reconciliation that has been made” since the end of the colonial era.

Still, many Japanese people feel anxious and unsettled because they don’t know where South Korea and the Korean Peninsula would be headed, Dr. Ogura said. He pointed out that TV programs often highlight Japan-South Korea’s deteriorated relations, which mainly feature some politicians’ viewpoints. He said that such information doesn’t reflect Japan-South Korea relationships, which are multi-layered among people of both countries. He gave credit that people from different backgrounds from both countries have made efforts to build up bilateral relations.

The online seminar was hosted on March 27 and May 8, 2021. Dr. Kizo Ogura has researched Eastern Philosophy and comparative civilization and served as a lecturer for the NHK Educational Television Korean Course and an executive committee member for the Japan-Korea Friendship Year 2005.

View the seminar recordings below:

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