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Japan May Have to Bend Its Knee Like Germany Did

Posted April. 26, 2005 23:31,   


The International Herald Tribune carried an article entitled “Japan may have to bend its knee,” on April 26, saying that Japan may have to stop making apologies that no one seems to be listening to, and try to show a more meaningful gesture of its leader bending his knees as the German chancellor did.

In his column, IHT columnist Timothy W. Ryback said that Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi expressed “deep remorse” and a “heartfelt apology” for the atrocities committed by Japan during World War 2, but that the expression was a reiteration of the apology that his predecessor, Tomiichi Murayama, expressed in 1995. In other words, Japan has been apologizing for several decades but no one believes that Japan is sincere.

“Six decades after the war, while Germany is embraced in a union of European nations, Japan is barely on speaking terms with its Asian neighbors,” he wrote.

Ryback stressed the historic visit to Poland in 1970 by Willy Brandt, then German chancellor, who fell his knees there before a monument to the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

Ryback pointed out that the Brandt’s “knee fall” was so memorable, not only to the world, but also to Germans themselves, that it helped redefine Germany’s image, but that it may be unthinkable for Japan to ever show that level of sincere contrition.

Ho-Gab Lee gdt@donga.com