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
Venue: Pauling 216, Soka University of America
Lodging for participants: Homewood Suites by Hilton Aliso Viejo - Laguna Beach

WEDNESDAY (April 17, 2024)

Pre-Symposium Event No. 1: Pauling 216, 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

Talk by Professor Roxann Prazniak (University of Oregon)

Title: Hung Liu (1948-2021), Artist as Radical Historian

FRIDAY (April 19, 2024)

Pre-Symposium Event No. 2: Student Affairs Lobby, 10:15 am - 11:00 am

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

  1. On the Path of Peace
    Anzu Sakai (Conductor), Yuhi Tanaka (Violin), Yuko Hashimoto (Violin), Miki Koyama (Viola), Wakana Kinoshita (Cello), Raven Gellerman (Flute), Yoichi Watanabe (Clarinet), Hiromi Ezumi (Alto Saxophone), Mizuki Yamashita (Trumpet), Haruna Takasago (Trumpet), Tyler Nakazaki (Trumpet), Ayano Tanaka (Trombone), Akari Kaieda (Trombone), Sakura Arai (Piano), Takumi Yabune (Bass Guitar), Keito Tsuji (Percussion), Yuriko Shiramizu (Percussion), Satsuki Yoshida (Percussion), Masahiko Nakaomori (Percussion)
  2. Les Miserable
    Wakana Kinoshita (Conductor), Yuko Hashimoto (Violin), Raven Gellerman (Flute), Yoichi Watanabe (Clarinet), Ryanne Padayhag (Clarinet), Hiromi Ezumi (Alto Saxophone), Yuriko Shiramizu (Tenor Saxophone), Anzu Sakai (trumpet), Mizuki Yamashita (Trumpet), Haruna Takasago (Trumpet), Tyler Nakazaki (French Horn), Ayano Tanaka (Trombone), Akari Kaieda (Trombone), Yuichi Matsuna (Piano), Keito Tsuji (Percussion), Satsuki Yoshida (Percussion), Misuzu Homma (Percussion)
  3. Ōkano Enishi
    Mizuki Yamashita (Conductor), Yuko Hashimoto (Violin), Wakana Kinoshita (Cello), Raven Gellerman (Flute), Yoichi Watanabe (Clarinet), Ryanne Padayhag (Clarinet), Anzu Sakai (Trumpet), Haruna Takasago (Trumpet), Tyler Nakazaki (Trumpet), Ayano Tanaka (Trombone), Akari Kaieda (Trombone), Sakura Arai (Piano), Keito Tsuji (Percussion), Satsuki Yoshida (Percussion), Hiromi Ezumi (Percussion), Yuriko Shiramizu (Percussion)

2) Performing Members of Koto Club

  1. Ōkano Enishi (co-performed with VLPO)
    Mayumi Kurata, Momo Nukui, Maki Matsumoto, Miho Takada, Sakura Arai
  2. Rokudan no Shirabe (six-column tune)
    Mayumi Kurata

Pre-Symposium Event No. 3: Student Affairs Lobby, 11:00 am - 11:30 am

Learning Cluster Product Presentation on “Abandoned People” by Kaori Nemoto, Chaerin Her, Sakura Kato, and Taka Matsumoto


Afternoon Opening Session (Pauling 216)

Moderator: Dongyoun Hwang (SUA)

1) Welcome Remarks: Ed Feasel, SUA President (1:00pm -1:05pm)
2) Short Introduction to Untold (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 (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”
(Translator: Hiromi Nitaguchi)
8) Q&A with Audience (4:40 - 5:00 pm)
9) Round Table Discussion by SIGS Student Research Fellows (5:00 pm - 6:00 pm)

Moderator: Emma Sherbine (SUA, Graduate Student)

Student Panelists:
  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) Q&A with Audience (6:00 - 6:20 pm)

11) Working Dinner, Art Gallery, Founders Hall (6:30 - 8:00 pm)

SATURDAY April 20, 2024 (Pauling 216)
BREAKFAST for participants at hotel
8:40 am, Pick-up at hotel lobby

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 Chinese Memory of the Anti-Japanese War: 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): “A Structural Void in Public Memory: The Case of Japan’s Wartime Atrocities”
• 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): “Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: A Two-Level Analysis of Japan’s Post-Cold War Security Identity”
• Seiji Takaku (SUA): “The Psychology of Offering an Apology: Understanding the Benefits of and Barriers to Offering an Apology”
• Tatsushi Arai (Kent State University): “International Conflict Resolution in the Age of Artificial Intelligence: Toward a Theory of Contextual Transformation” 

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)