Toward Peaceful Resilience and Conflict Resolution in East Asia

The Soka Institute for Global Solutions will host three symposia from 2024 to 2026 on Peace and Reconciliation in East Asia. The symposia, sponsored by the Soka University of America Office of the President, will offer different focus points on events in East Asia beginning in 2024 with Japan, to be followed by South Korea in 2025, and the People’s Republic of China in 2026.

View 2024 Symposium Program


This forward-looking three-year project explores perspectives and practices that regenerate cooperative dialogue and mutual trust in the aftermath of deep human traumas resulting from historical disasters, such as war, colonialism, and political injustice. Our goal is to create a forum for the interdisciplinary discussion of peace and reconciliation in East Asia with specific reference to conflicts over contested histories in which targeted individuals and communities suffered horrific acts of violence. It will approach the question of peace and reconciliation from various levels and disciplines and suggest a framework to specify differing memories/histories and imagine viable steps and paths toward peaceful resilience and conflict resolution in the region. Peace and reconciliation in East Asia, in other words, we believe, require a long, continuous, and open process that needs grassroots approaches as well as national level involvements, which we call Soka Steps. Our hope is to begin a meaningful discussion that will subsequently grow to include additional academic and non-governmental venues. We invite participation across the disciplines by students, scholars, activists, creative artists, and peace-making professionals, and contributions that are scholarship based, activist positioned, and youth oriented.


Full acknowledgement of damage to individuals and communities is a first step, followed by, as needed, apology, forgiveness, justice (legal, political, or historical), and cultural/human exchanges for mutual trust. Systematic exploration of the causes and repercussions of specific tragic events not only potentially clear a path forward in our present but generate shared understandings and proactive plans for prevention of future disastrous histories.


Looking at critical conditions in the world today, Soka Steps also envisions a process that begins in East Asia with the potential to positively affect current global social and environmental crises. Reconciling difficult and painful historical memories that impede resilience of thought and action in the present has become crucial to making productive headway on numerous political and environmental crises that endanger East Asia and the world. A best-case scenario requires that cooperative capacities be restored through dialogue- and truth-based mutual reconciliation of past grievances.


Approaching topics through interdisciplinary studies and the creative arts makes learning to listen beyond the distortions of traumatic developmental history possible. Toward this end, we have included film, art, and documentary studies as emotional steppingstones as ways to encourage imaginative social and political thought. Multi-level discussion in panel presentations, breakout groups, and whole conference summations will maximize group engagement and ideas for new directions in subsequent symposia and projects.

The Organizing Committee

Dongyoun Hwang (Chair), Professor of Asian Studies, SUA
Roxann Prazniak, Professor of History, University of Oregon
Seiji Takaku, Professor of Psychology, SUA
Xiaoxing Liu, Emeritus Professor of Chinese Language and Culture, SUA

Program for the first Soka Symposium, April 19-20, 2024

The first year of this three-year long symposium focuses on Japan and its neighbors. We will examine previous and present endeavors to address reconciliation issues between Japan and South Korea and the People’s Republic of China.

Symposium Information

Date: April 19-20, 2024
Place: Pauling 216, Soka University of America
Lodging for participants: Homewood Suites Aliso Viejo

Pre-Symposium Events

Event No. 1:, April 17, 2024 (Wednesday), Pauling 216, 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

Talk by Professor Roxann Prazniak (University of Oregon)

Title: TBA

FRIDAY (April 19, 2024)

Event No. 2: April 19, 2024 (Friday), Student Affairs Lobby, 10:00 am - 11:30 am

1) Student Orchestra and Choir Performance by VLPO and Koto Club
  Performing Members of Vita Leonis Philharmonic Orchestra (VLPO): TBA
  Performing Members of Koto Club: TBA

2) Learning Cluster Product Presentation on “Abandoned People” by TBA

Afternoon Opening Session (Pauling 216)

Moderator: TBD

1) Welcome Remarks: Ed Feasel, SUA President (1:00pm -1:05pm)
2) Short Introduction to Untold by Bora Lee-Kil (1:05-1:10pm)
3) Opening Screening I (1:10 pm – 2:30 pm)
Untold (77 min)
4) Main Speaker I (2:30 pm - 3:10 pm)
Bora Lee-Kil (Director of Untold)
Title of Talk: “Untold, the Story of the Day We Don’t Remember”

COFFEE/TEA BREAK (3:10-3:25 pm)

5) Short Introduction to In-Mates by Iiyama Yuki (3:25 - 3:30pm)
6) Opening Screening II (3:30 - 4:00 pm)
Film: In-Mates (26 min)
7) Main Speaker II (4:00 - 4:40 pm)
Iiyama Yuki (Artist and Director of In-Mates)
Title of Talk: “Cultural Genocide and Narratives”
8) Q&A with Audience (4:40 - 5:00 pm)
9) Round Table Discussion by SIGS Student Research Fellows (5:00 pm - 6:20 pm)

Moderator: TBD

Student Panelists (Presenters/Commentators):
  Emma Sherbine (SUA, Graduate School)
  Kenta Okazaki (SUA)
  Judy Li (SUA)
  Kayoko Shimomura (SUA)
  Miki Kawamura (SUA)
  Sakura Arai (SUA)
  Yuji Ishiyama (SUA)
  Takumi Yabune (SUA)
  Ayano Tanaka (SUA)
  Haruka Nakata (SUA)
  Kailash Pariyar (SUA)
  Sofiia Lobas (SUA)

10) Working Dinner (6:30 - 8:00 pm)


SATURDAY April 20, 2024 (Pauling 216)
BREAKFAST for participants at hotel
8:45 am, Pick-up at hotel

1) Session I (9:00 - 11:20 am): History, Memory, Pan-Asian/Anti-Japan Sentiments

Moderator: Xiaoxing Liu (SUA)

• Rumi Sakamoto (University of Auckland): “The Truth of Battleship Island’: Memory Activism over Wartime Forced Labour by the National Congress of Industrial Heritage”
• Leo Ching (Duke University): “Another Taiwan is Possible: Toward an Archipelagic East Asia.”
• Yuka Kishida (Bridgewater College): “Wielding a Pen and Carrying on a Dialogue amid Colonialism and War: Youth Interchanges in Japanese-Occupied Manchuria in the 1930s and 1940s”
• Xiaokui Wang (SUSTECH, PRC): “The Anti-Japanese War in Chinese Memory—History and Characteristics”

Commentator: Sijia Yao (SUA)

LUNCH (11:30 - 1:00 pm)

2) Session II (1:00 - 3:00 pm): Grassroots and Transnational Practices for Reconciliation

Moderator: Danielle Denardo (SUA)

• Akiko Takenaka (University of Kentucky): “Mothers Against War: Gender, Motherhood, and Peace Activism in Cold War Japan”
• Jimin Kim (Yonsei Univ. and CARE): “Empowering Change: Grassroots Initiative for the ‘Comfort Women’ Issue”
• Tetsushi Ogata (SUA): “Social Structures of a Void in Japan’s Wartime Memory”
• Jin-kyung Lee (UCSD): “Remembering ‘Comfort Women’ in Three Wars: WW II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War”

Commentator: Sunyoung Park (University of Southern California)

COFFEE/TEA BREAK (3:00pm - 3:20 pm)

3) Session III (3:20 - 5:20 pm): Diplomacy, Apology/Forgiveness, and Politics of Memory

Moderator: Esther Chang (SUA)

• Tom Le (Pomona College): “Injustice as Debt: Recommendations for Japan-South Korea Reconciliation”
• Daniel Nagashima (U of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign): “Towards Regional Reconciliation and a New Security Identity: Tokyo’s Management of Centrifugal Forces under Two-Level Games”
• Seiji Takaku (SUA): “Apology: A Simple Yet Most Effective Means To End Conflicts”
• Tatsushi Arai (Kent State University): “Peacemaking in the Age of Artificial Intelligence: Lessons from Civil Society Dialogues Across the Taiwan Strait” 

Commentator: Minju Kwon (Chapman University)

4) Q&A with Audience and Wrap-up Discussion (5:20 - 6:20 pm)

Moderator: Roxann Prazniak (University of Oregon)

DINNER (6:30 - 8:00 pm, Athenaeum Courtyard)