Food for Thought

“Given all these differences in Germany and Japan’s respective geopolitical environments, it is not really fair to explain Japan’s failure to become “normal” like Germany by pointing to the different ways in which these two countries have dealt with their past. Perhaps the question of whether Japan is normal should be decided by comparing it not with Germany, but with other nations around the world, most of which find it hard to apologize to the peoples they have victimized in the past. It took France 50 years after Algerian independence before President François Hollande admitted in 2012 that French rule over Algeria had been “profoundly unjust and brutal” – yet he still made a point of not apologizing. Has England apologized for massacres committed during its rule over India? Not yet. Have we heard Italy apologizing for its genocidal campaign in Ethiopia during the 1930s? Or Turkey for the genocide of the Armenians? Don’t hold your breath. And all the people of Vietnam have gotten out of the U.S. so far is Robert McNamara’s statement that the Vietnam war was “wrong, terribly wrong.”

The true tragedy is not that Japan has failed to face its past, but that this failure is so common among the nations of this world that it is normal.”


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