• Sat
  • Dec 20, 2014
  • Updated: 11:13am

Facing history can be painful, but is vital, says Merkel, as she ends China trip

German leader says lessons from wartime must be faced, but avoids direct mention of Japan

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 July, 2014, 4:21am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 July, 2014, 10:30am

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday it was necessary for her country to reflect upon its wartime history even though the process was painful.

Merkel made the remarks in an address at Tsinghua University before wrapping up her three-day China visit, but added that she was not pointing a finger at Japan.

Trade issues topped the agenda during Merkel's trip, with the two nations signing a series of business deals, but her talks with top Chinese leaders on Monday also coincided with China commemorating the 77th anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge incident that sparked the second Sino-Japanese war.

Premier Li Keqiang said at a joint press conference that lessons from history should be kept in mind, but Merkel did not comment.

China and Japan have been at loggerheads over Tokyo's attempt to downplay its aggression towards China during the war.

German officials had said before that Berlin did not want to be involved in exchanges between Beijing and Tokyo. Merkel's speech focused on sustainable development in both nations, but she was asked to comment on how Germany and Japan have dealt with their wartime pasts.

"Every one of us has to reflect on what we have done wrong," Merkel said of Germany's handling of the second world war, adding that many young Germans in the 1960s constantly asked their parents about life under the Nazis.

"This is a painful process," she said.

"But it is the right thing to do. The new generation also has to face history, and this is crucial to avoid repeating mistakes."

Merkel also raised human rights in her address, saying it was important that citizens have trust in the rule of law.

"Future success is shaped by an open, pluralistic and free society," she said.

Ding Chun , an expert in European affairs at Fudan University, said Merkel's remarks did not indicate Germany was siding with China to exert pressure on Japan, with whom Germany also had close economic relations.

"But her remarks will be well received in China, [and] will not cause a diplomatic stir in Japan because she is commenting in response to a question," he said.

Cui Hongjian , of the China Institute of International Studies, said Merkel was merely reiterating Germany's stance on its wartime history.

Beijing and Berlin are both at odds with the United States over cybersecurity and spying. Merkel said on Monday that it would be a "clear contradiction" of trust between Germany and the US if reports that a German intelligence employee spied for the US were true.

Ding said that while grievances against the US provided some common ground for China and Germany, political relations between Berlin and Washington would still be close.



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It's because Germany changed the ruling party after the war. Japan did not and the same Imperial family presides over Japan.
If Hitler's family was still in charge of Germany, do you think they would apologize or water it down and try to re-militarize?
M Miyagi
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says "Facing history can be painful, but is vital. But it is the right thing to do. The new generation also has to face history, and this is crucial to avoid repeating mistakes." Japan's PM Shinzo Abe and his cohorts lies about history, denies Japan's barbaric war history, incite hatred for her neighbours and to cap it all glorifies war by praying to war criminals at the Yassukuni War Shrine. Thus Japan is an uncivilised nation compared to Germany which by being remorseful about her barbaric war past have redeemed herself and have won the respect and admiration of others.
P Blair
Germany is able to face squarely her unfortunate history in world war 2 and is able to make amends and pay reparations for that, making Germany unlike Japan a reformed country. Japan on the other hand lies about her history. Germany is peaceful and civilised. Japan is war like and uncivilised.
"Facing history can be painful, but is vital. But it is the right thing to do. The new generation also has to face history, and this is crucial to avoid repeating mistakes." OK, right. So, when do we look at the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, and all the innocent victims? Oops, China has selective amnesia. So, stop teaching the Japanese what to do unless you are ready to do the same. (Not that disagree with the criticism on the Japanese)
And while China painfully faces its own history they shouldn't forget to include the Tiananmen massacre.
Germany mastered another big step in history. It turned the communist ruled half of its country into a democratically part of the whole of Germany. Pretty the opposite of what Beijing tries with Hong Kong. And Mrs. Merkel was born and raised in the communist East Germany and has become one of the most respected democratic politicians in the world. Imagine a Hong Kong'er becomes China's prime minister or president .
If PRC don't face up to history, I can understand. But when they spend millions $$ to propagandize and lie about their history, I don't understand.
look who's talking now .....communist china never faced history for millions of chinese people who were killed and suffered under their ruling....
Germany apologized to Jews for Holocaust, but Japan denies its atrocities. That's the different between true democratic country and old fashioned empire.
The world has been raped by European colonization. Too much trouble to give back the lands to the natives. The world has been shaped by centuries of imperialist atrocities.
Yeah, true, I can't be bothered with the native Australians and native americans, if they can't take back what they lost, nobody can help them.
Preserving the imperial government in Japan is really ridiculous.



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