BA Politics and Arabic

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
War Memories and Reconciliation in East Asia

Course unit fact file
Unit code POLI31011
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This unit explores the politics of war memories in East Asia, and how it affects diplomatic relations between Japan, China, and South Korea. While memories of the past may seem something non-political, what gets remembered and what gets forgotten are deeply political issues. The history of Japan’s imperialist aggression has been remembered in a variety of ways in Japan, due to domestic politics. How Japan’s unsavoury past is remembered is not a purely domestic affair, however. How Japan remembers its aggression is a matter of diplomatic concern for China and South Korea, and relations between Japan and its neighbours have been brought to the brink of crisis because of these ‘history issues’. Why do historical memories ‘matter’ in international politics? Why do governments often insist on having the final say about what ought to be publicly ‘remembered’? These are questions not only limited to East Asia alone. Similar dynamics play out in the BLM movement and how we remember the history of slavery or imperialism too. So what you learn in this course will have much wider application beyond the narrow confines of East Asia.



The unit aims to:

  • Introduce students to the various controversies surrounding war memories in East Asia, and how it affects interstate relations in the region. ¿
  • Foster students’ ability to the relations between war memories and international politics in a theoretically-informed manner. ¿
  • Develop students’ ability to apply some basic theoretical concepts on reconciliation critically to empirical cases. ¿
  • Provoke students’ thinking on practical steps needed to overcome the negative effects of war memories, both in East Asia and beyond.

Learning outcomes


Student should be able to


  • A broad understanding of the political developments of war memory in East Asia, as well as attempts to overcome the legacy of war in the region.
  • Analytical skills: an ability to develop arguments which synthesise theoretical and empirical material.
  • Communication skills: ability to effectively articulate coherent, critically-informed arguments and ideas to a small and larger groups; ability to interact with colleagues in a constructive manner.
  • Writing skills: an ability to express concise, logical arguments in written form.





  1. Introduction
  2. Historical Background: the origins of ‘contested history’ in East Asia (video presentation)
  3. Memory in International Politics: Does it Matter?
  4. Historical Memories and Nationalism in China
  5. Historical Memories and Nationalism in Japan
  6. Contested Memories
  7. Reconciliation: How can it be achieved?
  8. Case Study of Reconciliation I: The ‘Comfort Women’ Issue
  9. Case Study of Reconciliation II: Joint History Writing
  10. Historical Memory and Reconciliation in Comparative Perspective: what can East Asia and the Rest learn from each other?

Assessment methods

Short Paper (1400 words, 35%)

Long Paper (2600 words, 65%)

Feedback methods

Politics staff will aim to provide feedback on written work within 15 working days of submission via Blackboard (if submitted through Turnitin).

Students should be aware that all marks are provisional until confirmed by the external examiner and the final examinations boards in June.

For modules that do not have examination components the marks and feedback for the final assessed component are not subject to the 15 working day rule and will be released with the examination results. This applies to Semester 2 modules only. Semester one modules with no final examination will have their feedback available within the 15 working days.

You will receive feedback on assessed essays in a standard format. This will rate your essay in terms of various aspects of the argument that you have presented your use of sources and the quality of the style and presentation of the essay. If you have any queries about the feedback that you have received you should make an appointment to see your tutor. Tutors and Course Convenors also have a dedicated office hour when you can meet with her/him to discuss course unit specific problems and questions.

On assessments submitted through Turnitin you will receive feedback via Blackboard. This will include suggestions about ways in which you could improve your work in future. You will also receive feedback on non-assessed coursework, whether this is individual or group work. This may be of a more informal kind and may include feedback from peers as well as academic staff

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Shogo Suzuki Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Please note that course materails for this course will be criculated via Microsoft Teams

Return to course details