One constant problem with individuals, nations, corporations, organizations, etc. is the strong desire to recount our pasts in the most favorable terms. All of us can remember when we did this (or at least were very tempted to do it). This article is very thought provoking. As one who grew up under the propaganda of the Allies during WWII, this story is almost unimaginable. Yet it is reality. How time changes our perceptions of what actually happened in our pasts.The very fact I regularly read Chinese, Japanese, Russian, and Middle Eastern new sources tells the story.
Merkel tells Japanese to face history squarely
DURING a visit to Japan yesterday, where bitter disputes mark the country’s attempts to define its wartime actions, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany was able to return to a respected place in international society because it had faced up to its World War II atrocities.
Merkel said “facing history squarely” and “generous gestures” were necessary to mend ties. But in a speech in Tokyo organized by the Asahi newspaper, Merkel said she could not give any specific advice to Japan because lessons should be learned by its own people.
Her comments come as Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prepares to deliver a statement later this year to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the war. There is speculation that Abe, seen as a revisionist hawk, may water down Japan’s 1995 landmark apology over its war crimes across Asia.
“Germany was lucky to be accepted in the community of nations after the horrible experience that the world had to meet with Germany during the period of National Socialism and the Holocaust,” Merkel said. “This was possible first because Germany did face its past squarely, but also because the Allied Powers who controlled Germany after the World War II would attach great importance to Germany coming to grips with its past.
“One of the great achievements of the time certainly was reconciliation between Germany and France… The French have given just as valuable a contribution as the Germans have,” she said.
Relations between Japan and its wartime victims, China and South Korea, are at a low point, with Beijing and Seoul both demanding Tokyo does more to atone for its war past.
There were “great minds and great personalities who said we ought to adopt a policy of rapprochement… and without these generous gestures by our neighbors this would not have been possible,” Merkel said.
“It’s difficult for me as the German chancellor to give you advice on how to deal with part of your neighborhood,” Merkel said in response to questions. “But I think history and experience tells us also that peaceful means of reconciliation have to be found.”
Merkel’s visit to Japan is part of her swing through G7 member nations before Germany hosts the group’s next summit in June.