Since 1997, the East Asia Collaborative Workshop, based in Hokkaido has been running reconciliation events which bring together young Japanese, Koreans (including members of the Korean community in Japan), and people from other countries to share ideas about recent history. The workshops focus on the excavation of sites where forced labourers from Korea and elsewhere were put to work during the Asia-Pacific War, but have also been held in other sites of violence such as the island of Jeju in Korea. More than 1000 young people have now participated in these workshops.
The group is also closely linked to movements by the indigenous Ainu people of Hokkaido to secure the return of remains held in universities and museums in Japan.
Buddhist priest Yoshihiko Tonohira, a central figure in these movements, is visiting the Australian National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific to speak about the work of reconciliation in Japan and its region (in Japanese with consecutive interpretation).
At a time when conflicts over history in Northeast Asia are intensifying, this work is more significant than ever.