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.

As the dust slowly begins to settle following the uproar created by Günter Grass’s poem on Israel’s military stance towards Iran, Harry & Helen Gray Senior Fellow Dr. Lily Gardner Feldman takes an opportunity to highlight four lessons that relate to a larger context surrounding this affair: the depth, complexity, and fundamental stability of German-Israeli relations.

The Importance of German Societal Actors The Euro-zone crisis has focused international attention on Germany’s power, depicting the Federal Republic either as selfless savior (constructive power) or as dictatorial demon (dominant power), depending on observers’ nationality and profession.  The spotlight has turned mainly on the motivations and maneuverability of Chancellor Angela Merkel and the German …Read More

Watching the daily lives of Korean Americans, one thing stands out: the way they live. Korean Americans are distinct, from the wrapping paper they use at dry cleaners, their supermarkets, their senior citizens associations, Korean restaurants, or even the inside of their
cars. The reason for Korean Americans’ distinction is Dokdo, a small group of islets between
Korea and Japan. Wherever there are Korean Americans you will find objects or people related to Dokdo. That does not mean, however, that Korean Americans are obsessed with
it …

Dr. Lily Gardner Feldman is currently the Harry & Helen Gray Senior Fellow at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University, where she has recently published a book entitled “Germany’s Foreign Policy of Reconciliation: From Enmity to Amity” (Rowman & Littlefield). She also directs the Institute’s Society, Culture & Politics Program. …Read More

On September 27, 2011, the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) hosted a seminar on “Reconciliation in International Affairs: Lessons from Europe and Northeast Asia.”  Henning Borggräfe and Bongseok Han, both Harry & Helen Gray/AICGS Reconciliation Fellows, presented their research, followed by comments by Dr. Lily Gardner Feldman, Director of AICGS’ Society, Culture & …Read More

On February 14, 2011, AICGS convened a conference on “Making Friends While No One Is Looking: The Role of Sub-national Actors in Reconciliation in East Asia and Europe.” The conference was generously supported by the Harry & Helen Gray Culture and Politics Program and the AICGS Society, Culture & Politics Program. Over the course of …Read More

On January 20, 2010, the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) hosted a luncheon discussion with Dr. Jennifer Lind, Dartmouth College, to discuss comparative reconciliation efforts in Japan and Germany. Most participants concluded that Japan’s hesitance to acknowledge and apologize to former victims is damaging Japan’s foreign relations with countries such as China and …Read More

On May 1, 2009, AICGS held a workshop on “Reconciliation or Resentment? Honoring the Past or Minimizing It in the Foreign Policies of Germany and Japan,” which was undertaken with the generous support of the Harry & Helen Gray Culture and Politics Program and the AICGS Society, Culture, & Politics Program. Bringing together an interdisciplinary …Read More

In the growing scholarly discussion on reconciliation after violent conflicts, compensation
payments to former victims are described as a fundamental tool besides apologies, truth
commissions, or trials. Germany’s confrontation with its Nazi past is generally considered
a role model. Even if there is no consensus about a definition, “reconciliation” can be described as a process that offers former enemies a way to a shared future. The aim is to
overcome the past, but not to forget it …

Buffeted by European and global headwinds, many in Germany wish for their country to “exit from history” and chart a more peaceful and insular course. But as Ludger Kühnhardt, Director at the Center for European Integration Studies at Universität Bonn and a regular contributor to the Advisor, argues, Germany can only engineer a good future for its people as an engine of further European integration, as a partner of the United States and as a defender of universal human rights. This essay originally appeared in the June 14, 2011, edition of The Globalist.

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