Abe bow 70th anniversary Ma Ping/ZumaPress

Accepting Japan at Its Word

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's statement to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII will follow a long line of declarations by Japanese leaders expressing sincere remorse for their country's past behavior. It is time for the rest of Asia's leaders to recognize that forgiveness would benefit everyone.

TOKYO – In recent years, the number of tourists visiting Japan has been increasing rapidly, reaching a record 13.4 million last year, a 29% increase from 2013. Japan seems to be making great strides toward its goal of recapturing the position as an Asian cultural center that it held a century ago, when the Indian Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore lived in Tokyo. Chinese revolutionary leaders Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek, along with many other prominent Asians, moved there as well.

Anyone visiting Japan today would do well to learn two key words: domo, meaning “hello,” “thanks,” or “well,” and sumimasen, which can carry any of the meanings of domo, as well as “sorry” or “excuse me.” Ordinary Japanese say sumimasen countless times each day, to apologize to friends or strangers for even the most trivial accident or mistake. But, as Japan’s leaders have experienced firsthand since World War II, expressing regret to other countries is not so simple.

Yet that is precisely what Prime Minister Shinzo Abe must do in his upcoming statement marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the war. The statement will be based on consultations with many of Japan’s, and the world’s, leading WWII historians, as well as – and more important – with himself, his conscience, and his heart, because he understands the significance of his words on this highly fraught topic.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/UPd5bMt;
  1. An employee works at a chemical fiber weaving company VCG/Getty Images

    China in the Lead?

    For four decades, China has achieved unprecedented economic growth under a centralized, authoritarian political system, far outpacing growth in the Western liberal democracies. So, is Chinese President Xi Jinping right to double down on authoritarianism, and is the “China model” truly a viable rival to Western-style democratic capitalism?

  2. The assembly line at Ford Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

    Whither the Multilateral Trading System?

    The global economy today is dominated by three major players – China, the EU, and the US – with roughly equal trading volumes and limited incentive to fight for the rules-based global trading system. With cooperation unlikely, the world should prepare itself for the erosion of the World Trade Organization.

  3. Donald Trump Saul Loeb/Getty Images

    The Globalization of Our Discontent

    Globalization, which was supposed to benefit developed and developing countries alike, is now reviled almost everywhere, as the political backlash in Europe and the US has shown. The challenge is to minimize the risk that the backlash will intensify, and that starts by understanding – and avoiding – past mistakes.

  4. A general view of the Corn Market in the City of Manchester Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

    A Better British Story

    Despite all of the doom and gloom over the United Kingdom's impending withdrawal from the European Union, key manufacturing indicators are at their highest levels in four years, and the mood for investment may be improving. While parts of the UK are certainly weakening economically, others may finally be overcoming longstanding challenges.

  5. UK supermarket Waring Abbott/Getty Images

    The UK’s Multilateral Trade Future

    With Brexit looming, the UK has no choice but to redesign its future trading relationships. As a major producer of sophisticated components, its long-term trade strategy should focus on gaining deep and unfettered access to integrated cross-border supply chains – and that means adopting a multilateral approach.

  6. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now