Here’s an interesting article from Time entitled "Why Japan Is Still Not Sorry Enough", which started off in a predictable tone, but gets a lot better when it starts an interview with Thomas U. Berger, who has written a book looking at the post-war apologism or lack thereof to the neighbours. Here’s a few choice quotes:
Japan has apologized for waging aggressive war and oppressing its neighbors, but those apologies have fumbling and awkward, and often been undercut by revisionist statements from senior politicians. […]
But Japan has been far more repentant than is often credited. Prime ministers have repeatedly offered apologies for their country’s misdeeds. Japan has sponsored joint historical research with both South Korea and China. Most Japanese school textbooks deal with issues like the Nanjing massacre and the colonial oppression of Koreans in a fairly open manner.
The last sentence is of particular interest; as I mentioned in my last post, there is a common belief amongst English-speaking foreigners at least that Nanjing and colonialism is whitewashed at best.
Apologies tend to be given when there is a belief that those apologies will be accepted, at least in part, and that dialogue between the two sides will be advanced. So unless there are strong reasons to do so, most leaders avoid it.
Indeed, South Korea is not interested in hearing anything but total capitulation, and I don’t think there would even be any improvement in Korean attitudes anyway.
With the Koreans, there has been an unwillingness to help the Japanese find ways of reconciling when the Japanese have tried to do so. This was most apparent with the Asian Women’s Fund, which the Korean government did not support and in fact subverted by establishing a separate, rival support system for the former comfort women.
Yup, it takes two to apologise as well as to tango.
Anyway, it’s well worth a read, although give the comments a miss unless you wish to indulge in a bit of .