4th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center

Seeking Historical Reconciliation: The U.S. Role in Fostering Relations Between Japan and South Korea

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Webcast Recap

Democratic ideals and cultural exchanges among nations have been seen as effective tools to encourage reconciliation between former adversaries. But that seemingly has not been the case in relations between Japan and South Korea, even if democratic values are shared. Wilson Center Fellow and Waseda University professor Toyomi Asano notes that it is important to share memories of the United States-led process of decolonization after the Japanese Empire’s defeat. Since the early 1960s, the United States has tried to remain a passive mediator, stepping in only when volatile situations arise and regarding reconciliation as an issue for the Asian countries to address themselves. However, Asano argues that the United States could and perhaps should articulate a positive vision of reconciliation, including the post-war processes of decolonization and economic development in order for them to promote Japanese-Korean reconciliation. The United States should help to complete the psychological dimension of decolonization by sharing memories through making a public forum for international discussions and coordinating historical ceremonies.


  • Toyomi Asano

    Wilson Center Fellow
    Professor of Political History, Chukyo University, Japan
  • Franziska Seraphim

    Associate Professor of History, Boston College