Date: 8 February 2018
This lecture by Dr. Y. Chong, a visiting scholar at SOAS from Meiji Gakuin University, embraced a broad range of problems under the common theme of Japan-Korea historical memory issues. Dr Chong decided to elaborate on how zaininchi Koreans – those who emigrated to Japan during the colonial era and their descendants – perceived the results of the Tokyo Tribunal and evaluated Japan’s responsibility for the colonial rule in Korea.
The narrative commenced with the outline of the main points of dispute: first the problem of de-Japanization and the responsibility for colonial rule in the postwar seemed to be a key question. This was followed by the related issues of finding appropriate sources and whether to treat the problem as the one belonging solely to Japanese history or to the Korean side as well. The statistic material on the changes in the numbers of the Korean population outside Korea and, especially, in Japan proved to be useful for understanding the situation of Koreans and their organizations in Japan before and after World War II. The presenter paid significant attention to the historic figures who played important roles in the evolution of zainichi Korean associations in Japan and pointed out the politics supported by the zainichi community when evaluating the “justice” or lack thereof during the Tokyo tribunal.
The talk was followed by a Q&A session, where most of those present had a chance to pose queries. While some of the questions concerned the statistics used in the presentation, others touched upon issues such as the differences of the manner in which calls for war repatriations in mainland Korea and the zainichi community were dealt with. The lecture proved to be very informative and was a truly unique opportunity for students and guests to communicate in Japanese.