Date: 23 October 2018
In his talk Mr. Miura Toshiaki shared his insights gained from several decades of work as a journalist since the 1980s. Concentrating on the history issue in Japan and how it has come to dominate the political debate in East Asia, Mr. Miura related how as a young journalist he had never imagined that writing about history would come to be a central part of his work as a journalist covering international politics. He identified 1994/5 as the watershed year, when progressive forces in Japan seemed to be in the ascendance, culminating in the Murayama statement of 1995 in which Prime Minister Murayama apologised to Japan’s war victims. Unexpectedly, this resulted in a major backlash from the Japanese right, which again contributed to the rise of both former Prime Minister Koizumi and current Prime Minister Abe. Mr. Miura further elaborated on how the Heisei emperor has become central to the debate on history that has come to dominate the era, and how with his progressive views he has come to personify the attachment many Japanese feel to the (pacifist) Article 9 of the constitution. He warned progressives against this sentiment however, since having the emperor as a political figurehead can backfire when a possible a future emperor holds opposite political beliefs. The lecture was followed by a spirited discussion on the topics Mr. Miura addressed, and the event proved a fruitful exchange of ideas gleaned from the perspective of journalism on the one hand, and the perspective of academia on the other.