Peace of North East Asia That We Create Together by Kim Yeonghwan

The BAYT event - a talk by a Korean peace activist Kim Yeonghwan at UBC Asian Centre on Wednesday April 4th was a fabulous success, with a turnout of 25 participants from UBC and the community who truly reflected Vancouver's diversity - students from Korea, Japan, China, Canada, Singapore and others.

Kim started the event asking the participants how they saw themselves in relation to the WWII. It was probably a big question to many, but after a few moments of thought, one responded by saying how she felt caught between Singapore and Japan, both of which were home to her. Another student from Korea mentioned the relationship between the North/South division of Korea after the war and the compulsory military service for Korean men which he had done.

Kim helped us see the relationship between the past and the future - how the past war could be still alive in our present life. War is not over in hearts of many people, and many lands. Kim went on to show us photographs from "East Asia Collaborative Workshop," a 10-year old project in which people from Japan and Korea worked together to excavate the bones of the victims of forced labour during the war time, many of which are still buried in the remote soil of Hokkaido, a northern island of Japan.

Kim talked about 204 workers who died at one of the construction sites between 1938 and 1943, of which 36 were Koreans and 168 were Japanese. Some died from accidents at the dam construction site, and others from violence and malnutrition. Kim said the causes of the deaths reported by the authorities were not always reliable, as sometimes when a worker died from assault, it was reported that he died from malnutrition.

What was amazing to me is the fact that 200 young people of Korea and Japan chose to come all the way to Hokkaido at their own expense to do the hard work of digging bones. How do you motivate so many young people to do this when they can be partying elsewhere? I asked him. His answer was that meaningfulness of the work and the camaraderie that developed among the participants through this work were communicated by word of mouth and that way more and more young people were drawn to this project.

Kim cautioned against the over-simplified dichotomy of nation states being called "Assailants" and "Victims" For example, there were many Japanese, as described above, among the forced labour victims, and there were many Japanese dissents during the war who were sent to prison. Kim stresses that by getting to know each other and working together, we can overcome nationalism and prejudice. 'Does one still deny the comfort women after s/he meets a victim and hears her testimony? No, because through real human interaction, you know that you can trust her.'

Kim showed us a picture of a train station, Dorasan. It is a station at the north end of the South side of Korea of the railway built between Seoul and Pyongyang. The station was called "Not the last station from the South, but the first station to the North." The station was a symbol of hope for Korea's reunification. Once the railway is in operation, one can travel from South Korea all the way to Paris and London, Kim said. Wouldn't this be wonderful? On Monday at Nikkei Centre, he also mentioned that Hakata and Pusan are so close that a tunnel like Seikan tunnel would be possible - then Japan would not be an island state any more. I found the idea fascinating. Then one can travel by train from Japan all the way to London!

Then what can we each do to make a bright future like this possible?

Kim said

The first step: Knowing

The second step: Saying/Talking

The third step: Acting

He shared a great phrase in Japanese:

わかる & かわる meaning 'Know and Change- knowing something means changing yourself.' In Japanese, if you switch the first two letters of the word Wakaru, or to know, it becomes another word Kawaru, or to change.

I remember the moment of this kind of knowing when I was in high school. I read a book that described the Unit 731 - the notorious military unit of Japan that conducted inhuman chemical biological experiments on POWs in China. I, an ordinary high school student who had associated war with Hiroshima and Nagasaki up to then, was absolutely shocked. I did not even know what to think for a few days. When I finally talked to my friends about it, they didn't know what I was talking about and they didn't want to hear it. I guess it took me many years to move forward from the second step to the third step. Here I am, 20+ years later, finally acting.

Many thanks to Kim Yeonghwan for your informative and inspiring talk, and to Lim Sunsook for your assistance with the handout.
As usual, a big applause to the great teamwork of BAYT members!

Kim will be in Vancouver until April 26th. If you would like to arrange his talk for your community, please contact BAYT bayt.ubc@gmail.com or Peace Philosophy Centre info@peacephilosophy.com.
Thanks for all who participated! You will make a difference in this world.

With special thanks to Winnie Cheung who kindly provided the venue


With love and determination for peace

Kim Yeonghwan with BAYT


Talk by Kim Yeonghwan

A BAYT Event in April

"Peace in Northeast Asia That We Create Together"

This is a presentation by a Korean peace activist Kim Yeonghwan, followed by discussion. Kim, former Executive Director of the peace museum 'Grassroots House' in Kochi, Japan, will cover a broad range of topics such as the bone excavation project of Korean forced labourers, the meaning of the Japanese Constitution Article 9 in the Northeast Asian, democratization movement in Korea, exchange between North and South Korea, U.S. bases in Korea, history of Japan and Korea, and Koreans in Japan (zainichi).

Date and Time: 6:15 - 7:30 PM April 4th (Wed.) * Note the Time Change
Place: Seminar Room 604, Asian Centre, 1871 West Mall, UBC Campus

Inquiries: bayt.ubc@gmail.com
Organized by: BAYT (Bringing Asian Youths Together)
Sponsored by: Peace Philosophy Centre
* Note - this event is followed by a social - maybe dinner or drink somewhere on campus. Please join in!

Kim Yeonghwan
Former Executive Director of A Peace Museum Grassroots House in Kochi,Japan. Co-director of "East Asia Collaborative Workshop." Instructor of Peace Studies at Kochi Junior College and Kochi University.

Kim Yeonghwan was born in Chungju-si, Korea. M.A. in Sociology from Sogang University. His master's thesis was on nationalism in Korea.Since 1996 Kim has been active in "Okedongmu Children in Korea," a program that arranges meeting of North and South Korean children to promote peace and reconciliation. Kim came to Japan for the first time in 1997 to participate in the excavation of bones of Korean forced labourers in Shumarinai, Hokkaido - the project now known as "East Asia Collaborative Workshop." In 2000, Kim was hospitalized for a serious injury he suffered during snow removal work in Shumarinai. He was so touched by the kindness of the people of Japan who helped him then that he decided to stay and work for a peace museum in Kochi. Kim's lifework is building solidarity among citizens of the East Asia for peace and understanding.


Report: Japan’s Peace Constitution

On Friday, February 16th, Bringing Asian Youths Together organized the event to show the film, Japan’s Peace Constitution, followed by the guest speaker, Dr. Shigenori Matsui from UBC Faculty of Law.

The film covers many issues surrounding the North East Asia, focusing on the issue of Article 9 and its significance on the international community and neighbor countries like China and South Korea. After watching the film, the director of Japanese legal studies at UBC faculty of Law spoke about how Article 9 was made, what was implication behind creating the peace constitution, how the role of Japan’s Self-Defense Force fit in the legal framework of Article 9, etc. Then, the floor was opened up for discussion. About 15 people who gathered at the event were really excited to express and share their opinions with others. A rich diversity of opinion was observed in the discussions: How a role of the Self-Defense Force fits in Article 9; how the issue of comfort women issue is perceived in Japan; is peace and security in Japan under an umbrella of the United States or Article 9?; freedom of speech and its relation to the attitude of the Japanese government towards war crimes, etc.

I was very happy to see the lively discussion. It was very interesting to see the issue of Article 9 from many perspectives. We hope to provide you with more opportunities to discuss freely about a variety of issues in East Asia.

Wakiko Yoneda
Bringing Asian Youths Together


Arc' comments on the "Japanese peace constitution" event

Hello, this is Arc.
I saw this movie before, but unfortunately I had to run to my class, so I didn't attend the discussion part last time. This time is my first time, for the discussion.

This movie impressed me and changed me a lot, I think. I've heard about the Article 9 issue before, but, at that time, I strongly believed this was "Japanese' s business", I should not put my claws on it--isolationism, I think, :-). It is this movie told me that the spirits of Article 9, such as peace and non-violence, should be known by all the people in the world, and saving Article 9 is not only some "JAPANESE" businesses about "JAPANESE" issues; it is something about peace and love for all the human beings.

It is great to have Dr. Matsi here, giving us his opinion about North East Asia issues. Pepole in North East Asia are poor, in words of peaceful life, I think. Those lands have been the battlefield since the beginning of 20th century, and even now, the remains of clod war are still there. Under such a hard environment, I think, communication like this is very important. To hear from Dr. Matsui, and to hear from students with different background, we knew each other better. Through communication, we kill sterortype and we gain knowledge, so I think to have a talk is always good.


Japan's Peace Constitution Screening at UBC on February 16 with Dr. Shigenori Matsui

Film: Japan’s Peace Constitution

Interested in Asian international affairs? Want to learn more about it? Want to share your thoughts with friends from other countries? Bringing Asian Youths Together (BAYT), in cooperation with UBC Asian Studies Interest Association (ASIA) and Peace Philosophy Centre, will be showing the documentary film, Japan’s Peace Constitution http://www.cine.co.jp/kenpo/english.html). A showing of the film (78 min) will be followed by the guest speaker, Dr. Shigenori Matsui from UBC Faculty of Law.

Date: Friday, February 16th.
Time: 12:30-2:30pm
Venue: Henry Angus 215 /UBC

*If you are planning on attending the event, RSVP to Hyunsoo Cho at bayt.ubc@gmail.com. As soon as we confirm the venue, we will e-mail you.

Refreshments will be provided.

Japan’s Peace Constitution
In 2005, sixty years after the end of World War II, the conservative Japanese government is pressing ahead with plans to revise the nation's constitution and jettison its famous no-war clause, Article 9. This timely, hard-hitting documentary places the ongoing debate over the constitution in an international context: What will revision mean to Japan's neighbors, Korea and China? How has the US-Japan military alliance warped the constitution and Japan's role in the world? How is the unprecedented involvement of Japan's Self-Defense Force in the occupation of Iraq perceived in the Middle East?

Dr. Shigenori Matsui
Professor Shigenori Matsui joined UBC Faculty of Law in January 2006 as Director of Japanese Legal Studies. Professor Matsui comes to UBC from Osaka University Law School where he worked as associate professor from April 1983 to March 1994; and as full professor from April 1994 to December 2005. He worked for Osaka University, Faculty of Law, until he joined the newly established law school in 2004. He taught courses in Constitutional Law, Comparative Constitutional Law, Mass Media Law, Freedom of Information Law, Internet Law, and Law and Medicine. He also served as an Osaka University Council member from April 2003-March 2003 and served as associate dean for the law School, from April 2004 to December 2005.
Professor Matsui also served for the Japanese Government as a member of the National Freedom of Information Board, and as an examiner for the National Bar Examination Commission (Constitutional Law) as well as serving on a number of boards for Osaka Prefecture and numerous municipalities.

An internationally-renowned expert in the fields of Constitutional Law, Internet Law and Law and Medicine, he has been a visiting scholar at the University of California, University College London, the University of Washington, the University of Western Australia and here at the University of British Columbia (1990-91).