UNESCO’s Role in East Asian Reconciliation: Post-war Japan and International Understanding

  • Aigul Kulnazarova


History is an important academic discipline that has been a key concern for states. The task of writing independently about history is complicated because interpretations of the past are often “imagined, studied and constructed” under the influence of states and ruling governments to aid them with the prolongations of national identity and political order.2 As such, history can through its teaching materials and narratives impinge on the lives, memories and relations of the community of peoples. In particular, history education plays an increasingly important role in upholding sustainable peace, security and humanity. While acknowledging this fact, it is yet difficult or impossible for different nations to reach or bridge international understandings about their contested histories and conflicting collective memories. The discretion of history education and textbooks, which serve as a principal basis for any successful post-conflict reconstruction, would today seem even greater in the context of past East Asian historical interpretations. This chapter, while dealing with the issues of painstaking reconciliation between Japan and the Republic of South Korea (hereafter Korea), aims to reflect the role of UNESCO in the region’s most complicated disputes relating to history textbooks. In what way has UNESCO contributed to the improvements in regional international understandings and textbook revisions since 1945? Does it today play a sufficient role in those improvements?


National Archive School Textbook History Education Record Group History Textbook 
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© Aigul Kulnazarova 2016

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  • Aigul Kulnazarova

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