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Editorial: Chancellor Merkel discussed two introspections

  • 2015-03-12 15:00:00
  • , Tokyo Shimbun
  • Translation

(Tokyo Shimbun: March 12, 2015 – p.5)


 German Chancellor Merkel came to Japan for the first time in 7 years. Both Japan and Germany have made an economic superpower by recovering from the postwar ruins. Japan should learn from the course of Europe that built peace by accepting Germany that faced the past.


 As a member of the European Union (EU), Germany has built strong relationships of trust with neighboring countries. On the contrary, discords between Japan and China, and between Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK), are prominent.


 Regarding the relationships with neighboring countries, Chancellor Merkel explained in a lecture delivered in Japan, “Despite the era of the Nazis, Germany has been accepted by international society, because the country expectedly faced the past.”


 There are differences between Europe and the East Asia over the circumstances of “the past” of war. Germany admitted the aggression and the holocaust by the Nazis, and Europe has fruitfully built a common historical perception. On the other hand, there still is an extremely large difference over the perception of history among Japan, China, and ROK.


 Under the circumstances, however, the remorsefulness and apology for “the colonial rule and the aggression” expressed by former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama in his statement to mark the 50th postwar anniversary has become the fundamentals of the perception of history as the basis of Japan’s diplomacy. We expect that the current administration will clearly express the fundamentals without distorting them in the coming 70th postwar statement; thereby, gaining understanding from neighboring countries and fill the gap over differences of perception of history.


 Chancellor Merkel also said, “Without France’s generous manner, the bilateral reconciliation would not have been made possible.” She went on to say, “The safety of the trade sea routes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea are threatened by conflicts over the maritime dominium;” thus urged China to restrain and called for utilizing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the conflict resolution. It is noteworthy that the chancellor urged Japan’s neighboring countries to demonstrate generosity and self-restraint. With respect to utilizing ASEAN, we can learn a lot from EU.


 Regarding Germany’s shift to the policy of breaking with nuclear power generation, the chancellor said, “The country has been for peaceful use of nuclear power; however, the Fukushima nuclear disaster made them change their mind. The disaster clearly made them realize that an incident could occur in Japan even with such high technology level. There really are risks beyond all expectations.” This way, the chancellor emphasized that the impact of the disaster was a trigger for Germany to shift its nuclear policy.”


 After the summit meeting with Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asserted again that he will proceed with the policy of restarting nuclear power plants. However, it was made clear recently that contaminated water was leaking from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to the open sea, which shows that whatever “risks” beyond all expectations as pointed by Chancellor Merkel have not been eliminated. As Germany learned a lesson from the Fukushima disaster, Japan should seriously consider once again the meaning of Germany’s decision.

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