A MESSAGE OF APPEAL FROM THE HISTORICAL AWARENESS RESEARCH COMMITTEE
The way in which one understands the history of one’s own country is a mainstay of national independence which brooks no interference from other nations. However, the historical awareness which denounces Japan without any grounding in fact harms diplomatic relations and greatly impinges upon Japan’s honor and national interests. In its essence, historical awareness should not be a subject to be taken up under diplomatic exchange, but, rather, should be a subject for scholars to research in an academic setting. It is unlikely that historical awareness will remain the same across differences of national and ethnic belonging. It is for this reason that, after the conclusion of a war between modern nation states that has impacted the fortunes of both sides, treaties are signed, territory is divided, compensation and reparation is paid, and the past, for diplomatic purposes, is settled. This settlement of the Great East Asia War was completed for Japan, as well, with the conclusion of peace treaties after seven years of occupation beginning in 1945. Based upon treaties and agreements entered into with South Korea, China, and the countries of Southeast Asia, among other nations, Japan has settled its past and carried out the payment of reparations, compensation, and other forms of indemnification.
However, instigated by erroneous reporting in the Japanese media beginning in the 1980s, the “first textbook incident” occurred and historical awareness again became a diplomatic issue. Thereafter, there began to be interference in the prime minister’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine, followed by the outbreak of the “comfort woman issue” in 1990. All of this has made for a framework in which Japan is attacked unilaterally on the diplomatic front over questions of historical awareness. As a result, the anti-Japanese historical awareness which denounces Japan with no grounding in fact has harmed diplomatic relations and greatly impinged upon Japan’s honor and national interest.
China, South Korea, and other nations all have their own particular reasons for injecting issues of historical awareness into diplomacy. However, many of the materials that such nations use in their criticisms of Japan were first produced by anti-Japanese media, scholars, and activists in Japan. We, concerned Japanese volunteers, have heretofore responded to domestic anti-Japanese forces with arguments grounded in historical fact. We have seen some success emerge from our efforts, such as when the Asahi Shimbun newspaper admitted to errors in some of its comfort woman reporting and duly apologized. However, the influence of anti-Japanese forces in the international community remains strong. The Japanese government has still not mounted a full-scale rebuttal to these forces in a systematic, organized fashion. Wherefore, we have gathered in this association in order to engage in basic research for the purpose of defending the honor of Japan.
We shall engage principally in the following four areas of effort. First, we shall research the prevailing conditions today surrounding issues of historical awareness. We shall carry out this research in a systematic fashion, including research on movements working in the background of these conditions, such as the processes by which these conditions emerged, and what forces were responsible for their prominence and dissemination. Second, we shall engage in empirical research on historical facts. In doing so, we shall be able to provide materials grounded in the historical facts of times past for refuting criticisms of Japan involving issues of historical awareness. We wish also to train and educate younger researchers. Third, we shall organize oral histories and testimonies and shall gather together those related materials that have been scattered and overlooked. There can be no rebuttals grounded in historical facts without first gathering up materials. Fourth, based upon these various kinds of research, we shall share our findings with an international audience, such as over the Internet, by publishing books and articles in foreign languages, and through translations of our monographs and other scholarly works. We shall also offer proposals and recommendations to governmental and other related institutions as the need arises.
In order to realize the above four goals, we shall hold public symposia and research colloquia and publish, among other things, the scholarly journal, Historical Awareness Studies. We ask for your ongoing support for the activities to be undertaken by the Historical Awareness Research Committee in the interest of preserving the national honor of Japan.