Transitional justice and collective memory : dealing with Japan’s occupation in South Korea

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This paper examines the effect of transitional justice, defined as measures that deal with historical wrongdoings, on perceptions about wrongdoers. According to major schools on collective memory, the perceptions may stem from the past, the present, or the interplay of both. In order to assess these perspectives, we draw on Freeden’s analysis of political ideologies and theorize that memories of wrongdoing have a morphology that resembles ideologies: wrongdoing forms “the core” of memory, transitional justice its “adjacent parts,” and denial its “periphery.” We hypothesize that transitional justice transforms perceptions about wrongdoers if its reparatory, retributive, and reconciliatory components are all implemented. These components were operationalized as an experiment based on a 2x2x2 factorial design, which was embedded in a cross-sectional survey of 640 adults randomly selected from the Gallup Korea online panel. South Korea was selected as a research site owing to the unresolved legacy of Japan’s occupation in 1910-45. The non-linear distribution of the five-item perceptions scale and the significance of the third-order interaction term from a tobit analysis suggest patterns of memory. Perceptions about wrongdoers can be transformed by their abandonment of denial and the implementing of comprehensive transitional justice.


ConferenceXVIII ISA World Congress of Sociology : Facing an unequal world: Challenges for global sociology
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