Former consul general from South Korea earns doctorate degree, writes dissertation on “grassroots cooperation” of A-bomb survivors

by Kyoko Shinmoto, Staff Writer

On September 25, Shin Hyung-Keun, 60, who served as the South Korean consul general in Hiroshima until March 2014, completed a doctoral program at Hiroshima University’s Graduate School for International Development and Cooperation, located in Higashihiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture, and received a doctorate degree. Mr. Shin wrote his dissertation on the subject of A-bomb survivors, including his father, who spearheaded “grassroots cooperation” and served as a driving force in addressing issues surrounding South Korean A-bomb survivors. He vowed to continue making efforts to promote peace in Japan and South Korea.

His dissertation points out that the application of Japan’s A-bomb Survivors Relief Law to survivors residing in South Korea was the result of cooperation pursued from the grassroots level. He wrote that A-bomb survivors, suffering from many hardships such as discrimination, indifference, and poverty, appealed directly to the Japanese public as well as the Japanese government. These actions led to the formation of support organizations and prompted the Japanese government to pursue a legal framework and policies to aid the survivors.

Mr. Shin believes that a clue to improving relations between Japan and South Korea, which remain chilly, lies in grassroots cooperation. He illustrated his point by discussing youth exchange programs, writing that even when headway is not being made politically or diplomatically, such exchange programs should be actively strengthened in the private sector and between local areas. Noriyuki Kawano, a professor at the Institute for Peace Science at Hiroshima University and Mr. Shin’s instructor, said, “The important point of his dissertation is the idea that exchange at the private level is an approach that can help resolve current difficulties between the two nations.”

Mr. Shin took office as consul general in March 2011. In October 2011, he enrolled at Hiroshima University. His father, Shin Yong-su, experienced the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, then served as chair of the South Korean Atomic Bomb Sufferers Association, initiating efforts at grassroots cooperation.

At a ceremony held on September 25, Mr. Shin received his doctorate degree from Akimasa Fujiwara, head of the Graduate School for International Development and Cooperation. Mr. Shin said, “If given the opportunity, I would like to teach about peace issues involving Japan and South Korea to young people at universities in South Korea.”

(Originally published on September 26, 2014)