Merkel tells Ja­pan to face its World War II past 'squarely'

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By AGEN­CIES

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, re­fer­ring to her own coun­try’s ex­pe­ri­ence, re­minded Ja­pan on Mon­day of the need to con­front squarely its wartime past.

The po­lite re­minder comes as Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe pre­pares to is­sue a state­ment mark­ing the 70th an­niver­sary of Ja­pan’s de­feat in World War II.

The state­ment will be watched closely by Bei­jing and Seoul, which suf­fered un­der Ja­panese mil­i­tarism, as well as Tokyo’s close ally, Wash­ing­ton.

Abe has said he in­tends to ex­press re­morse over the war and that his Cabi­net up­holds past apolo­gies. But it is un­clear whether he will re­peat the “heart­felt apol­ogy” and ref­er­ence to “colo­nial rule and ag­gres­sion” in his state­ment.

In a speech at the start of her first visit to Ja­pan since 2008, Merkel re­ferred to a 1985 speech by late Ger­man pres­i­dent Richard von Weizsaecker in which he called the end of World War II in Europe a “day of lib­er­a­tion” and said those who closed their eyes to the past were “blind to the present”.

Merkel said Ger­many was able to re­turn to a re­spected place in in­ter­na­tional so­ci­ety be­cause of its ef­forts to face up squarely to atroc­i­ties in the war.

But she said she could not give any spe­cific ad­vice to Ja­pan be­cause lessons should be learned by its own peo­ple.

“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 (Nazism) and the Holo­caust,” she said.

“This was pos­si­ble first be­cause Ger­many did face its past squarely, but also be­cause the al­lied pow­ers who con­trolled Ger­many af­ter World War II at­tached great im­por­tance to Ger­many com­ing to grips with its past.”

Chi­nese For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi said on Sun­day that Bei­jing will wel­come any lead­ers who are “sin­cere about com­ing” to its mil­i­tary pa­rade and other events mark­ing the 70th an­niver­sary of the end of World War II. He had been asked if Ja­pan was in­vited.

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