Sorry States

Sorry States: Apologies in International Politics

Jennifer Lind
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Sorry States
    Book Description:

    Governments increasingly offer or demand apologies for past human rights abuses, and it is widely believed that such expressions of contrition are necessary to promote reconciliation between former adversaries. The post-World War II experiences of Japan and Germany suggest that international apologies have powerful healing effects when they are offered, and poisonous effects when withheld. West Germany made extensive efforts to atone for wartime crimes-formal apologies, monuments to victims of the Nazis, and candid history textbooks; Bonn successfully reconciled with its wartime enemies. By contrast, Tokyo has made few and unsatisfying apologies and approves school textbooks that whitewash wartime atrocities. Japanese leaders worship at the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors war criminals among Japan's war dead. Relations between Japan and its neighbors remain tense.

    Examining the cases of South Korean relations with Japan and of French relations with Germany, Jennifer Lind demonstrates that denials of past atrocities fuel distrust and inhibit international reconciliation. In Sorry States, she argues that a country's acknowledgment of past misdeeds is essential for promoting trust and reconciliation after war. However, Lind challenges the conventional wisdom by showing that many countries have been able to reconcile without much in the way of apologies or reparations. Contrition can be highly controversial and is likely to cause a domestic backlash that alarms-rather than assuages-outside observers. Apologies and other such polarizing gestures are thus unlikely to soothe relations after conflict, Lind finds, and remembrance that is less accusatory-conducted bilaterally or in multilateral settings-holds the most promise for international reconciliation.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6228-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Jennifer Lind
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    The elderly Korean woman was very slight, with salt-and-pepper hair pinned back. She stood with head ducked, behind a bank of microphones, her shy eyes peering up at her audience. Kim Hak-soon told an astonished world how during World War II she was sent to Manchuria as a ʺcomfort womanʺ of the Japanese Imperial Army. Raped twenty, thirty times a night by Japanese soldiers, she toiled in menial labor all day, received little food, and endured terrible beatings. She watched soldiers beat to death and offhandedly execute many women imprisoned alongside her. ʺJust hearing the word, Japan, makes my heart...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Remembrance and Reconciliation
    (pp. 9-25)

    Criticism of Japanese impenitence and praise for German contrition rest on an implicit and untested claim that remembrance affects international reconciliation. A theory linking remembrance to reconciliation—one that has clearly defined variables and causal mechanisms and makes testable predictions—is necessary to test this claim.

    Countries might experience different stages of reconciliation ranging from a tense ceasefire to a true reconciliation that reflects friendship and trust. An essential first step toward the latter outcome is an absence of threat perception. In other words, before countries can start thinking of one another as friends, they must cease to see each...

  6. CHAPTER TWO An Unhappy Phase in a Certain Period
    (pp. 26-100)

    In the late 1990s, relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) warmed perceptibly. Shared fears of North Korea prompted increased political and military cooperation; opportunities for economic exchange soared with the ROKʹs repeal of a long-standing ban on Japanese cultural imports such as movies and music. And their joint hosting of the 2002 World Cup tournament prompted the New York Times to enthuse that the formerly tense relationship reflected ʺa new spirit of respect and reconciliation.ʺ¹

    Less than a year later, relations had soured again. Japanʹs Ministry of Education had approved a textbook that many Koreans thought whitewashed...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Not Your Father’s Fatherland
    (pp. 101-158)

    In the years after World War II, first West and then unified Germany engaged in tremendous self-reflection and atonement.* Germans confronted history and Holocaust in their memorials and monuments; they learned about eleven million murdered souls in museums and textbooks; they repented invasion, tyranny, and terror in the haunting speeches and bowed heads of their leaders. The confrontation with the past was, to be sure, imperfect. Germans sometimes flinched from the truth and clung to comforting myths. Nevertheless, their self-reflection was so historically unprecedented, they had to invent a word for it: the German Vergangenheitsbewältigung was the most extensive process...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR The Soul of a People Can Be Changed
    (pp. 159-178)

    In this book I argue that denials of past aggression and atrocities fuel distrust and elevate threat perception. Chapter 2 shows the link between Japanʹs unapologetic remembrance and South Korean distrust of its intentions. This finding is further supported in chapter 3. Although the West Germans did not justify or deny past atrocities, chapter 3 shows that the French both carefully watched West German debates for signs of revisionism, and were reassured by its absence.

    This chapter turns to additional cases to determine whether the link between remembrance and perceptions of intentions appears to be borne out elsewhere. Is unapologetic...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 179-198)

    The sixtieth anniversary of the end of World War II showcased a striking difference between Europe and Asia. In Europe, relations among the major powers have never been better—highlighted by Germanyʹs dramatic reconciliation with its former enemies. Germans spent decades confronting and atoning for the terrible crimes of the Nazi era. Today, the Federal Republic is welcomed as a leader in international diplomacy and trade; its military forces now fight alongside those of its allies in UN and NATO operations. The warmth of European relations was felt in 2004, when the former Allies invited German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 199-234)
  11. Index
    (pp. 235-242)