Singapore Expats Forum

Coming to terms with history

A moderated forum for serious discussions only.
User avatar
Wind In My Hair
Manager
Manager
Posts: 2306
Joined: Tue, 19 Jul 2005

Coming to terms with history

Postby Wind In My Hair » Thu, 18 May 2006 12:40 am

here's a serious topic based on recent discussions about nazism and the cultural revolution. how does a nation grapple with parts of its history that are painful to look in the face? seems denial is part of that process, and also the passing of at least one generation, and third parties to keep the memory of the event alive until a later generation apologises for the wrongs of their ancestors.

america has looked its history of slavery in the face. the catholic church has spoken out against the inquisitions and crusades. germany has made atonement for the holocaust. but japan and china are still in denial.

so what does it take before a people admits to, apologises for, and finally puts to rest its history?

User avatar
Plavt
Director
Director
Posts: 4291
Joined: Wed, 18 May 2005
Location: United Kingdom

Postby Plavt » Thu, 18 May 2006 1:20 am

WIMH,
I think the problem in part at least is the younger generation does not wish to equate themselves with the past. They cannot be blamed by the actions of people even if they are their descendents. The generation that remembers the war is diminishing and in a few years it will not exist. Somebody of 70 today was only nine years old when the war in Europe finished. Can we blame a child who had no part in political decisions at the time?

I think people should look to the future rather than at the past which can never be changed irrespective of what crimes were committed.


Plavt.

User avatar
riversandlakes
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 899
Joined: Fri, 22 Jul 2005
Location: Simei
Contact:

Postby riversandlakes » Thu, 18 May 2006 1:58 am

Is the son accountable for sins of the father? Why?

I would say in the long term of things, none of these could matter for long. If I may say so, look upon the two WWs as a lesson that wars never solve anything - yet we see this mistake repeated over and over again, as recently as this century.

What defines "facing up" or admitting mistakes?

Just because Pope John Paul II admitted to the Church's mistakes in the Holocaust, for the sufferings caused by the Crusades and for the Inquisition does that wipe clean the wronged souls through the past millenium?
Now who will own up for the destruction of an entire civilization of the Incas by the Spanish Invaders via superior firepower and Europe continental diseases?

I'd say there is only a superficial value for apologies or attonement. Only what a population learns as a result of the catastrophe, either man-made or otherwise truly matter.
It is unlikely the strong democratic government in Japan will now ever again engage in aggression for an Asia for Asia.
Likewise the strong democratic government in Germany today.
Let's not be blinded by China's selective memory hiding behind the rage that is the Yasukuni Shrine. It is part of the agenda of the Communist leaders to stay in power and to maintain that "mandate" by bashing the Japanese whenever convenient. Historians estimate over 30,000,000 Chinese died in the Cultural Revolution, as compared to their official self-estimate of 300,000 massacred in Nanjing. Yet there is denial till today, because it undermines their legitimacy to rule.
Goatboy will always cherish his former goatgirl.
But the world is full of fluffier ones.

Kats_
Chatter
Chatter
Posts: 213
Joined: Sun, 24 Jul 2005

Postby Kats_ » Thu, 18 May 2006 2:21 am

Plavt, this is exactly what I had told my friends back at the University in Germany. They sure arent proud of their history but I dont see why they must hang their heads in shame for something they werent a part of, year after year?

My ancestors being Asians were probably least affected by holocaust and hence my attitude towards it...

Then again, if you extend the atrocities of the past - what about the atrocious deeds of the colonist countries ?

Certainly not comparable to the holocaust but nothing to be proud of nonetheless. For instance, the Jallinwala Bagh massacre, where Dyer ordered open fire on an unarmed congregation killing some 1000 which included women and children?

Ok, forget racial supremacy\ethnic cleansing, what about the failings in gender equalities in the past?

Such listings are endless. Some acknowledge them and some perhaps, choose not to.

Sure we should learn from the past incidents, lest we repeat them, but expecting an apology and pointing fingers probably might not help.

Not saying, we should just shove it under the carpet, instead....

I would say the current generation should quit hating others for what happened in the past and strive to prove oneself and have an equal footing with rest of the world.

Easier said than done, but this way one can restore the dignity of their country men and women who were snatched off it and command respect.

All this IMHO.
tonton toto, ton thé t'a t-il ôté ta toux?

User avatar
sundaymorningstaple
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 35106
Joined: Thu, 11 Nov 2004
Location: Still Fishing!
Contact:

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 18 May 2006 10:32 am

I am inclined to agree with Plavt on this to a certain extent.

I really don't see the need to apologize for the actions of a different generation. It is the actions of the current generation and next generation that are important.

But, Those who ignore their history are doomed to repeat it. Japan as done a good job of hiding their history to the subsequent generation - This is not going to wash. I don't blame China (regardless of their own cultural revolution) for continually seeking to get Japan to admit to certain things. Japan has to at least admit that it happened. A whitewash in todays interconnected world doesn't work.

More recently, there are signs that, despite the ban on aggressive weapons and aggression in general, it appears that Japanese leaders are becoming ever more strident in equipping the country with more advanced weapons that actually can have dual purposes. This doesn't look like atonement to me.

Unlike R&L I feel that today's Japan is only one leader removed from a stronger military disguised as a self-defense force. When that happens all of S.E.Asian will start worrying again as they haven't admitted their wrongdoing to this day. No worries? Don't quite agree.

The difference between the cultural revolution and the US civil war are the leader of the countries and what they stand for. A freely elected President of a country for the people and by the people (okay - an idealist viewpoint) is a lot different than a communist leader with a select party of cadre answerable to no one. The coverup there cannot be revealed as the links are still valid in the country today.

User avatar
Cheekybeek
Chatter
Chatter
Posts: 424
Joined: Mon, 31 Oct 2005

Postby Cheekybeek » Thu, 18 May 2006 11:21 am

Nor does John Howard (Aussie PM). In the past Aussies did some pretty attrocious things to the indigenous people. We still celebrate Australia day, the day when the British landed and began slaughtering the Aboriginals.

User avatar
bushbride
Regular
Regular
Posts: 118
Joined: Fri, 27 Jan 2006
Location: Singapore

Postby bushbride » Thu, 18 May 2006 12:33 pm

Interesting topic WIMH and posters.

Although there are some acknowledgements of the past, the greater crime is in the lack of education and discussion about what happened and what has been learnt from past.

I was watching a documentary on some of the memorials around the Nazi regime a couple of weeks ago. I was surprised to watch a German woman visiting a memorial and talking about how unaware she was of what happened there. She said that she was not taught this sort of thing in school. Would an apology be enough for what happened and how much have they learnt from these past mistakes if they are not discussed?

John Howard (Aussie PM) gave a speech about the ‘Stolen Generations’ (atrocities against the aboriginal people) early 2000. ‘Sorry’ was an important word for the Aboriginal culture, yet Howard could only say that on behalf of the Australian people he ‘regretted’ what happened to the ‘stolen generations’. There were obvious liability issues at stake (compo) and it was not the fault of the government in power that day – should they pay for others mistakes and in what form is this payment?

I believe that there is a great difference between regret and responsibility. Someone can regret what has happened and feel sympathy, maybe even empathy, for those affected by an atrocity. But, to take that as an individuals’ responsibility, is to place a burden on today’s society that can never be repaid (particularily if the repayment is monetary).

However, to truly apologise should be the act of seeking knowledge so as to learn from the past and not repeat the same mistakes. Too often we see the same mistakes being repeated over and over gain by the same country, by other countries, by individuals, by governments. There is nothing happening in the world that someone or a country hasn’t done to someone else before.

We should acknowledge the past, but, greater is the person who actively learns from it. We cannot be held accountable for crimes we did not comit. But we can be held accountable for the crimes we do comit.

So, I believe the real apology is in the proactive act of not repeating the same mistakes - as opposed to just saying ‘sorry about that’.

BB
- Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. Da Vinci -

Kats_
Chatter
Chatter
Posts: 213
Joined: Sun, 24 Jul 2005

Postby Kats_ » Thu, 18 May 2006 1:22 pm

bushbride wrote:
So, I believe the real apology is in the proactive act of not repeating the same mistakes - as opposed to just saying ‘sorry about that’.

BB


Love that thought!
tonton toto, ton thé t'a t-il ôté ta toux?

User avatar
Wind In My Hair
Manager
Manager
Posts: 2306
Joined: Tue, 19 Jul 2005

Postby Wind In My Hair » Thu, 18 May 2006 5:33 pm

Kats_ wrote:
bushbride wrote:So, I believe the real apology is in the proactive act of not repeating the same mistakes - as opposed to just saying ‘sorry about that’.


Love that thought!


yes, good way of putting it BB. totally agree, and at all levels not just national.

User avatar
jpatokal
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 3014
Joined: Tue, 09 Dec 2003
Location: Terra Australis Incognita

Re: Coming to terms with history

Postby jpatokal » Thu, 18 May 2006 6:30 pm

Wind In My Hair wrote:america has looked its history of slavery in the face. the catholic church has spoken out against the inquisitions and crusades. germany has made atonement for the holocaust. but japan and china are still in denial.


Here's a question for you: what would it take you for you to agree that Japan has come to terms with its history? Most Chinese people I've spoken to say that they want a sincere apology, because Japan has never given one... and then they're shocked when I give them this link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wa ... d_by_Japan

Just to select one:

"In the past, Japan, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. Sincerely facing these facts of history, I once again express my feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology, and also express the feelings of mourning for all victims, both at home and abroad, in the war. I am determined not to allow the lessons of that horrible war to erode, and to contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world without ever again waging a war."

Who said that? Why, it's the Chinese Antichrist, PM Junichiro Koizumi. :o

Just to clarify my stand on this, I think there's a lot more Japan could still do, eg. drop the stupid claim on the Dokdo rocks and build a neutral war memorial for state visits. However, most Japanese actually are keenly aware of what their country did during WW2, and -- IMHO quite rightly -- feel that the issues are constantly played off by Chinese and Korean politicians who want to distract their populace from domestic issues.
Vaguely heretical thoughts on travel technology at Gyrovague

User avatar
Quasimodo
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 595
Joined: Tue, 25 Oct 2005

Postby Quasimodo » Thu, 18 May 2006 6:49 pm

Amazingly I am in agreement with jpatlokal, at least in reference to Japan and its many apologies about their acts during World War II, from the Emperor, Prime Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, Individuals etc . . .

It is quite astonishing how much of a bully China and Korea are in this regard, both with the same aim = to bolster support among their population against a common 'enemy' => Japan!

Japan is a major aid donor to China (which in itself is ludicrous), whenever cabinet meets to discuss the discontinuation of aid China miraculously whips up another storm of indignation at some Japanese act . . .
Does anyone remember last year when a Japanese football team played a game in China and 'independent's groups had whipped up such an anti-Japan frenzy that the government actually had to send in troops to quell what they had started.

Schoolbooks that don't tell the whole truth? Let's not forget that these books were not the approved textbooks, merely suggested ones - they did NOT make it into the classrooms. Should Japan do more to educate their youth about WW2? How much more? Enough to make these kids feel bad about their country's past?
While on the subject of schoolbooks - when will China start teaching their students the real history of China? China = Hypocrisy!
China is a bully, politically, economically, geographically and militarily.

Korea? Sorry, been there too many times to take these people seriously on the political arena, especially vis-a-vis Japan . . . Ridiculous is the right word.

The main difference between Germany and Japan is that Germany has neighbours that are not intent on replaying history time and again whenever it suits them for their own selfish gains.
China and Korea are, in this respect a pathetic rabble of primitive scaremongers and cheap xenophobes.
One in the hand is worth two of something

User avatar
Wind In My Hair
Manager
Manager
Posts: 2306
Joined: Tue, 19 Jul 2005

Postby Wind In My Hair » Thu, 18 May 2006 7:26 pm

jpatokal, that was a good link. and by the way i always liked koizumi. i think it's his hair, almost as tame as quasi's. :)

i admit, maybe denial is too strong a word. and i don't doubt that koizumi and gang mean what they say. it's just that broadly speaking i would still feel uncomfortable talking about WWII with a japanese, whereas i could talk openly about slavery with an american, the inquisition with a catholic, or the holocaust with a german. it's just the feeling that the average japanese person would rather not talk about it. maybe cultural reticence more than anything else. or a complete misperception on my part. but until the average citizen is willing to discuss the issue openly, i would not say that a country has fully come to terms with its past.

as for china, though i am chinese by descent all i will say is that i am glad i am not chinese by nationality.

User avatar
Quasimodo
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 595
Joined: Tue, 25 Oct 2005

Postby Quasimodo » Thu, 18 May 2006 8:35 pm

Wind In My Hair wrote:jpatokal, that was a good link. and by the way i always liked koizumi. i think it's his hair, almost as tame as quasi's. :)

i admit, maybe denial is too strong a word. and i don't doubt that koizumi and gang mean what they say. it's just that broadly speaking i would still feel uncomfortable talking about WWII with a japanese, whereas i could talk openly about slavery with an american, the inquisition with a catholic, or the holocaust with a german. it's just the feeling that the average japanese person would rather not talk about it. maybe cultural reticence more than anything else. or a complete misperception on my part. but until the average citizen is willing to discuss the issue openly, i would not say that a country has fully come to terms with its past.

as for china, though i am chinese by descent all i will say is that i am glad i am not chinese by nationality.


Amen to that, a feeling shared by most I would presume.

I have found that Japanese are not too bashful talking about the war, they do however feel a sense of guilt. I have been to Japan around 50-odd times and have several friends and one very good friend, whose son I am a godfather to. They can and will talk about the war, but are possibly a bit too shy at times to offer their opinion.
Speaking with a German about the same subject can get you either result; educated conversation (years of learning about it at school) or discomfort due to the guilt trip thing.

It is just a worry that if China and Korea continue to bash Japan over the head with their pathetic war-guilt cries that more Japanese will feel the sense of nationalism rising.

In terms of their armed forces, SMS, I do believe that Japan is far too underoutfitted when confronted with the behemoth across the water. China is beholden to no-one and shows that quite clearly all the time.

I'd ratehr have a strong Japan in our area as a counterbalance than a overwehelmingly powerful China pushing eevryone around.
One in the hand is worth two of something

User avatar
PhantomX
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 187
Joined: Tue, 09 Sep 2003

Postby PhantomX » Thu, 18 May 2006 9:38 pm

Quasimodo wrote:
Wind In My Hair wrote:jpatokal, that was a good link. and by the way i always liked koizumi. i think it's his hair, almost as tame as quasi's. :)

i admit, maybe denial is too strong a word. and i don't doubt that koizumi and gang mean what they say. it's just that broadly speaking i would still feel uncomfortable talking about WWII with a japanese, whereas i could talk openly about slavery with an american, the inquisition with a catholic, or the holocaust with a german. it's just the feeling that the average japanese person would rather not talk about it. maybe cultural reticence more than anything else. or a complete misperception on my part. but until the average citizen is willing to discuss the issue openly, i would not say that a country has fully come to terms with its past.

as for china, though i am chinese by descent all i will say is that i am glad i am not chinese by nationality.


Amen to that, a feeling shared by most I would presume.

I have found that Japanese are not too bashful talking about the war, they do however feel a sense of guilt. I have been to Japan around 50-odd times and have several friends and one very good friend, whose son I am a godfather to. They can and will talk about the war, but are possibly a bit too shy at times to offer their opinion.
Speaking with a German about the same subject can get you either result; educated conversation (years of learning about it at school) or discomfort due to the guilt trip thing.

It is just a worry that if China and Korea continue to bash Japan over the head with their pathetic war-guilt cries that more Japanese will feel the sense of nationalism rising.

In terms of their armed forces, SMS, I do believe that Japan is far too underoutfitted when confronted with the behemoth across the water. China is beholden to no-one and shows that quite clearly all the time.

I'd ratehr have a strong Japan in our area as a counterbalance than a overwehelmingly powerful China pushing eevryone around.


One bully gets to be overshadowed by another, so whats new?
It's all about self interests and any other argument is but an effort in glossing what's but thinly veiled attempts at jostling for the position of top neighbourhood bully
X

User avatar
Quasimodo
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 595
Joined: Tue, 25 Oct 2005

Postby Quasimodo » Thu, 18 May 2006 10:05 pm

Very simplistic, phantom - too simplistic for such an issue.
One in the hand is worth two of something


  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to “Strictly Speaking”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests