The inability to accept the past by Japanese leaders stands in stark contrast to Germany’s clear acknowledgment of its responsibility for the Holocaust. The deep layers of reconciliation Germany developed with France, Poland, Israel, and the Czech Republic stand in contrast to Japan’s apologies to its neighbors, which have been thin, intermittent, and devoid of follow-up in bilateral policies toward China and South Korea that show a genuine desire to make amends. Germany’s experience—apologize, offer compensation, build other relationship—can serve as a guideline for continuing reconciliation in East Asia.

Borrowing institutionally from the German-Polish case, Polish-Russian reconciliation had been making small, tentative steps until the crisis in and over Ukraine. There is some effort to continue civil society interaction, but official initiatives such as the planned Polish-Russian Year in 2015, which was to showcase cooperation in culture and silence, have been stalled. If the …Read More

What are the consequences of Asia’s rise for transatlantic relations? What are the opportunities for increased U.S. and European political coordination and risks of economic competition in Asia? Can the deep-seated, historical antagonisms between China, Japan, and South Korea be addressed using our knowledge of Germany’s experience with reconciliation? What is the role of leadership …Read More

German leaders called early this year for a greater German role in international security, with President Gauck noting Germany’s experience already as a crucial actor in international reconciliation. AICGS’ workshop, ”Reconciliation in the Western Balkans and in East Asia: The Role of German Governmental and Civil Society Actors and Implications for the United States,” on …Read More

Martina Timmermann

Dr. Martina Timmermann was a DAAD/AICGS Research Fellow from July to August 2014. While at AICGS, Dr. Timmermann explored the potential and options for EU/German involvement as a mediator in East Asia. One of the major underlying currents impeding a sustainable solution of the several conflicts in the South and East China Sea has been …Read More

Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Barack Obama were right to pull the plug on the emotional debate over intelligence gathering and task their chiefs of staff, Peter Altmaier and Denis McDonough, with finding a solution to the conflict. This process will need time, thorough attention, and the willingness to embark on a long over-due remodel …Read More

On March 6, the Obama administration sent a strong message to Japan and South Korea to work out their differences on historical problems. Speaking on Japanese television, U.S. Ambassador to Tokyo Caroline Kennedy said, “I’m sure President Obama will be very, very happy with the progress they will make.” The strong American reaction came in …Read More

Responding to China and South Korea’s budding interest in Germany as a contact point for resolving disputes with Japan, Director of the AICGS Society, Culture & Politics Program Dr. Lily Gardner Feldman argues that, although Germany has not jumped at the opportunity to share its insights, East Asia is right to look to Germany for …Read More

In the aftermath of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s controversial visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, where war criminals from World War II are also buried, Director of the AICGS Society, Culture & Politics Program Dr. Lily Gardner Feldman emphasizes that Japan cannot ignore reconciliation with its neighbors. Laying out a point-by-point path to kick-start the …Read More

Jewish and Muslim communities are two of the most politically-active minority groups in the United States and Germany. This half-day workshop examined how these groups impact domestic and foreign policy issues and what common challenges they face in their interaction with the broader public, the government, and each other. It provided a forum for leaders from both communities to compare their experiences and assess their role in politics.

Discussing the differences in and implications for reconciliation in Europe and Northeast Asia, Seunghoon Emilia Heo focuses on the need for leadership and dialogue to overcome past conflict. True dialogue, she finds, requires a lessening of old expectations and an attitude of acceptance. Only by doing so can Korea and Japan overcome the roadblocks to …Read More

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