CPIA dean awarded fellowship at Taiwan’s Academia Sinica Institute

CPIA dean awarded fellowship at Taiwan’s Academia Sinica Institute

The Republic of China Ministry of Foreign Affairs has awarded College of Public and International Affairs (CPIA) Dean Dr. Thomas Ward with a research fellowship at the Academia Sinica Institute of Modern History in Taiwan. As one of the most prominent academic centers in Taiwan, the Institute hosts some 1,000 researchers, including seven Nobel Laureates.

During his three-month position as a visiting research fellow, Ward will focus on the effects of Japanese colonialism on Taiwan and Korea. Koreans have a largely negative recollection of Japan’s Draconian occupation after World War II. The Taiwanese view Japan’s occupation of the island from 1895 to 1945 as repressive but nowhere near as brutal as during Chiang Kai-shek’s reign of White Terror from 1949 to 1987, when martial law was implemented and thousands were killed because of their political views.

“This is a great opportunity to conduct research and engage key experts in my field of interest here in Taiwan,” said Ward, whose work is allowing him to meet major opinion leaders and specialists and attend academic events throughout Taipei.

Ward, who was previously named a Fulbright Fellow, was conferred the fellowship and invited by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs based on a proposal he submitted on the comfort women controversy. This followed publication of The Comfort Women Controversy: Not Yet Over, in the respected East Asia–An International Quarterly. He cowrote the article with UB Criminal Justice and Human Security Professor William Lay.

“I have discovered a number of additional key points in this area since I have been here,” Ward said. “I hope to add this to an extended book Professor Lay and I are planning to develop on how the Korea-Japan divide on the comfort women issue is affecting the United States.”

Ward is vice president for Internationalization at the University. He teaches graduate courses in International Conflict and Negotiation and Political and Economic Integration for the CPIA graduate program in Global Development & Peace.

About the Comfort Women Controversy 

(Excerpted from The Comfort Women Controversy: Not Yet Over, in East Asia-An International Quarterly, by Thomas Ward and William Lay):

During World War II, up to 200,000 women, mostly Korean, were forced to provide sex to Japan’s military forces. The perceived refusal of Japan to fully take responsibility for the mistreatment of these “comfort women” has been a major obstacle to Japanese-Korean relations for a quarter of a century.

Although the signing of the December 28, 2015 Agreement between Japan and Korea purported to “finally and irreversibly” solving the comfort women issue dividing these two East Asian powers, the voices of Korean and Korean-American civil society indicate the contrary.

American local, county, and state governments have become key battlegrounds in the conflict. As comfort women memorials across the USA proliferate, these governmental entities have allowed themselves to be caught up in incomplete narratives, whether Japanese or Korean. Against the backdrop of the tense geopolitics of today’s Asia-Pacific, a more responsible, comprehensive inquiry is needed to bring closure to a tragic chapter of human history.

About the College of Public and International Affairs

CPIA is a diverse learning community committed to preparing students for careers in public service and public affairs through the interdisciplinary study of world politics, communications, religion, human security, and the social sciences.

The College has six distinct undergraduate bachelor of arts and four globally-focused master’s programs including its master’s track in East Asian and Pacific Rim Studies. For more information, call (203) 576-4966.