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The History ProblemThe Politics of War Commemoration in East Asia$
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Hiro Saito

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824856748

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824856748.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The History Problem

Hiro Saito

University of Hawai'i Press

In essence, East Asia’s history problem resulted from a collision of nationalist commemorations in Japan as well as in South Korea and China. To understand how the history problem evolved, this chapter draws on field theory and proposes to analyze the history problem as a field inhabited by various political actors—governments, political parties, NGOs, and so on—competing for the legitimate commemoration of the Asia-Pacific War. The Japanese government is the most important actor in this field because it has the power to define Japan’s official commemoration, the focal point of political struggles. In addition, commemorative positions of the Japanese government and other relevant actors can be identified in terms of the spectrum ranging between nationalism and cosmopolitanism—the two logics of commemoration available in the institutional environment. These actors then try to influence Japan’s official commemoration by exploiting available mobilizing structures and political opportunities.

Keywords:   Japan, South Korea, China, Asia-Pacific War, commemoration, nationalism, cosmopolitanism, politics, field theory

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