The purpose of this study is to clarify how people who differ in their historical awareness and way of thinking can deepen interpersonal relationships by learning through discussion. In the 1990s, it was often observed that participants in social education facility classes would argue and find no common ground when their thinking and interpretations of historical events differed. How to get people on different wavelengths to meet in the middle remains an unresolved issue.
We examined one case study in which this problem was successfully resolved. We focused on two participants in a seminar on current affairs that was conducted in the 1990s in the Social Education Center of Itabashi City, Tokyo. One learner (B) had experienced the Asia-Pacific War and supported the military. Another learner (H) had not experienced the Asia-Pacific War and opposed the military. We read the written record of the class word-for-word and analyzed it together with H.
Three main conclusions were reached. First, B, who had expressed his support for the military, agreed, due to his study of Okinawa, that the battle for Okinawa had brought on much pain and suffering. This was because of the value he placed on human life, which made it not possible for him to overlook the wartime victimization of the Okinawans. Second, H sympathized with B’s feelings about the importance of life and both shared conflicting feelings about war that arose during the Gulf War. Third, B’s life experience of pain and suffering as he faced life or death situations was passed on from B to H. We found that when one party came to trust the other, even though they had not been able to understand one another at first, and by continuing the dialogue without giving up, they were able to reveal their true feelings and their lives, deepen their relationship, and confirm their common desire for harmony.