German lessons

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The Chinese media has seized on remarks from Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, to an audience in Tokyo that her country had “faced its past squarely”.

Her comments come at a time when Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is said to be readying a statement to mark the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in the Second World War.

Abe says he will express remorse over the war and acknowledge previous apologies, including the landmark statement by then-premier Tomiichi Murayama in 1995. But it is unclear whether he will repeat the same tone of apology or make reference to “colonial aggression” that caused so much suffering across Asia in his remarks.

Merkel referred to the words of the late German president Richard von Weizsaecker who called Germany’s defeat a “day of liberation” and said those who sought to deny the Nazi past were “blind to the present”. The Chinese press doesn’t expect anything similar from Japan, however. “Tokyo’s cowardice is all the more conspicuous against the backdrop of Berlin’s sincerity in historical remorse,” Xinhua lectured, while a front-page commentary in the People’s Daily predicted that Abe “may not be persuaded by Mrs Merkel”.

“Countries including China and South Korea are the victims,” the commentary fumed. “It is not that the victims are lacking the heart to forgive and accept, but the victimiser should show sincerity and prove it with actions.”

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