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.
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.
More to be announced in August 2023.