This article is an introductory report on the work of a Japanese study group whose primary aim is peacemaking, which it seeks by promoting a greater understanding of the long-term effects of their country’s traumatic experience of the Second World War. The group does not adopt a position of victimhood but seeks to understand the full picture of Japan’s role in the war, including its role as perpetrator. We came together with the shared assumption that the country’s inability to take responsibility for its role of the war is inextricably tied to its own traumatization. If this assumption is true, then the healing of Japan’s collective wounds will be the first step toward its taking responsibility for its role in the war. We have sought to understand how the impact of the collective and cultural trauma from the war has affected the Japanese psyche, especially the devastating experience of defeat. Numerous historical and sociological studies of Japan’s role in the Second World War have been published. But we believe that this multidisciplinary group’s work to understand, through a psychological lens, Japan’s traumatic experience of the war offers a unique approach to encouraging the country to reconsider its role in a series of devastating events in the region, and the continuing effects of those event on regional political stability.



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