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Regional Peace Building: The Korean Peninsula and North-east Asia

10 June 2010, Centre for Asian Pacific Studies, Lingnan University

Symbolic Meaning of Historical Injustices:
Attitudes of South Korean Students to Japan’s Policy of Dealing with the Past

Roman David
Lecturer, Newcastle University

This paper hypothesizes that policies of dealing with the past carry symbolic meanings, which facilitate, or hamper, the victims’ perceptions of justice and reconciliation. The symbolic meanings communicated through compensation, trials, and apologies express the disassociation of the wrongdoer from the wrongdoing. In the eyes of victims they indicate whether or not the wrongdoers are genuinely interested in dealing with the past. The absence of one policy of dealing with the past shows that a wrongdoer is not genuine and that he has not given up on his previous hostile attitudes. In order to test the hypothesis, we have devised an experimental vignette, which manipulates financial compensation, trial, and apologies in 2x2x2 factorial design. The vignette will be embedded in a questionnaire which will be randomly assigned and distributed within a group of South Korean students who would respond to five questions on justice and four questions on reconciliation. The results of the OLS linear regression analysis should provide a feedback on the symbolic meaning of policies of dealing with the past, statistically captured by mutual conditionality (interactions) of these policies.

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