Germany uneasy about portrayal as Japan’s model in history row

March 28, 2014

By TORU TAMAKAWA/ Staff Writer

BERLIN--Germany finds itself in a difficult position as China and South Korea press Japan to face up to its past by using postwar Germany as a role model.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to visit Germany from March 28. South Korean President Park Geun-hye met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on March 26.

Three weeks ago, China asked Germany if Xi could visit the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, but Germany nixed the request immediately, a German source said.

Beijing and Seoul have accused the Abe administration of having a blinkered view of shared history.

There have been calls in China and South Korea for Japan to follow Germany’s example in confronting the wartime past.

The source said Germany did not want a third country to use the historical monument, officially called the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, for diplomatic purposes.

Sebastian Heilmann, president of the Mercator Institute for China Studies think tank and a professor of Chinese political economy at the University of Trier, said postwar Germany has taken an exceptional stance on the Holocaust and other issues, and other nations are not expected to behave the same way.

Germany plans to use the visits by Xi and Park to deepen economic ties with China and South Korea, but the country has close economic links with Japan as well.

The Merkel administration does not want to be involved in a dispute over different historical perceptions between Japan and its two neighbors.

Park was asked about history issues at a news conference after the summit with Merkel on March 26. But she did not criticize Japan apparently out of concern for Germany’s position.

Park said reunified Germany can be a model for a peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula.

By TORU TAMAKAWA/ Staff Writer
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Chinese President Xi Jinping (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Chinese President Xi Jinping (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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