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The Editors

German-Polish Reconciliation in Comparative Perspective: Lessons for Japan?  ドイツ・ポーランド和解を比較的視野に置く——日本にとっての教訓たり得るか

April 19, 2010
Volume 8 | Issue 16 | Number 1


German-Polish Reconciliation in Comparative Perspective: Lessons for Japan?1

Lily Gardner Feldman

The Japanese Case and the Benefits of Comparison

In 2008 and 2009, a series of historical issues once again defined the public space of Japanese-South Korean and Japanese-Chinese relations: the revisionist essay of General Tamogami Toshio; Prime Minister Aso Taro’s acknowledgement of the use of slave labor in his family’s wartime mine; new flare-ups in the longstanding territorial disputes over the Senkaku/Diaoyu and Takeshima/Dokdo islets; ministerial visits to the Yasukuni Shrine; and Japanese government approval of another amnesiac history textbook whitewashing Japan’s World War II aggression.2

These developments could be viewed as another episode in the periodic eruption of history-related problems that have affected Japan’s bilateral ties openly since 1982, with the anticipation that they will ebb and flow depending on domestic and international circumstances. Alternatively, these events also could be understood as contaminants that severely impede Japan’s foreign policy, with the hope that now is a time to imagine fundamental change.

Hatoyama Yukio, the new Prime Minister of Japan, has chosen to entertain the possibility of a paradigm shift in how Japan deals with China and South Korea. In a June 2009 visit to the Republic of Korea as head of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), when elaborating on his vision for an East Asian or Asian-Pacific Community, Hatoyama drew on the Franco-German experience of creating a regional organization for embedding their relationship on foundations of permanent peace.

Hatoyama (left) and Lee in Seoul, October 9, 2009

Since assuming office, Prime Minister Hatoyama’s first visit to Seoul instead of Washington, D.C. (usually the first destination), and his pledge that neither he nor any of his cabinet members will visit the Yasukuni Shrine, have signaled his interest in Japan’s Asian neighbors and his emphasis on a reconciliatory tone toward them.

In addition to the election victory of the Democratic Party of Japan, there are signs that a path toward genuine reconciliation in Northeast Asia might now be approachable. First, there is the reality of generational change, which means the physical disappearance of some conservative, nationalist, and right-wing forces opposed to reconciliation and the emergence of a cohort with no historical experience of World War II. Second, there is evidence of a growing differentiated view among some conservatives, for example the Yomiuri Shimbun’s War Responsibility Reexamination Committee and Watanabe Tsuneo’s criticism of ministerial visits to the Yasukuni Shrine.3 Third, public opinion surveys demonstrate that “the affirmative view of the being rejected by the wider society.”4

As scholars and practitioners have sought to understand the power of history issues in Asia and the possibilities for ending the logjam over reconciliation, in the last decade many have looked to Germany’s experience with a foreign policy of reconciliation. The literature on Northeast Asian reconciliation that considers the German case is welcome, but it is limited in four significant ways: (1) Often the references to Germany are glancing or anecdotal.5  (2) Where greater elaboration does occur, it centers on single topics, such as memory, narratives, textbooks, education, or territorial disputes, largely ignoring the many other examples of Germany’s non-governmental bilateral institutions and most of the governmental illustrations.6 (3) The most developed arguments for learning from the German case focus on either Franco-German or German-Polish relations, excluding the rich lessons provided by Germany’s partnerships with Israel and the Czech Republic, the two cases where history issues in fact have been stickiest. (4) Even where there is a fuller treatment of Germany, the understanding of the German model of reconciliation is flawed, overestimating harmony and perfect peace as the goal and underestimating the considerable obstacles, crises, and vicissitudes that have accompanied these long processes of bilateral peace-making, and whose surmounting has permitted authentication of reconciliation. Particularly notable in Jennifer Lind’s work is the assumption that there has been no backlash to the German government’s confrontation with the past. While not as ferocious as the right-wing backlash in Japan, there was intense German opposition to government and societal reconciliation behavior on a variety of occasions. The key lesson to be learned from those German experiences is that eventually (?) political and moral vision by German leaders successfully challenged the opposition and thereby authenticated and strengthened reconciliation. Political and moral avoidance are not part of the toolbox of reconciliation.7

The following analysis of German-Polish experience with reconciliation is useful for the Japanese case as it reveals both the persistence of historical issues and a robust institutionalization that can limit the past’s explosive potential. It also refers to three other cases of reconciliation in German foreign policy – relations with France, Israel and the Czech Republic – to demonstrate the pattern and richness of the German example. The essay concludes with a brief review of the Japanese case under Prime Minister Hatoyama. Comparison is utilized here as an analytical framework and as a clarifier of choices with keen awareness that simple replication is neither desirable nor possible for the Japanese situation. Even when there are inevitable systemic and political culture differences, comparison can sharpen the contours of debate and illuminate policy preferences. Thomas Berger alerts us to three key differences between Germany and Japan: in historical experiences; in allied involvement in shaping new narratives; and in the international/regional settings in which the two countries evolved from pariah status after World War II.8 Yet, as he points out, the two countries face the same challenge of confronting the indelibility of the past at a time when history issues are high on the global agenda. At a time when Japan shows signs of a political will and commitment to grapple with the past, Germany can provide an important guide for the opportunities and hurdles etched in the long, arduous and necessary process of reconciliation.

The Significance of the Polish Case

I have a maximal, “thick” definition of reconciliation that has also been called “structural.” By "reconciliation" I mean the process of building long-term peace and cooperation between former enemies through bilateral institutions and relationships across governments and societies. Reconciliation involves the development of friendship, trust, empathy and magnanimity. It involves both ethical and emotional dimensions and practical and material aspects. In fact, two German words, according to Polish analyst Artur Hajnicz, embrace the full meaning of reconciliation: Versöhnung and Aussöhnung.9 Germany’s pursuit of reconciliation has consistently reflected both meanings, melding moral imperative with pragmatic interest. This concept of reconciliation does not infuse peace with a vision of harmony and tension-free coexistence, but rather integrates differences between peoples. Productive contention about history in a shared and cooperative framework for identifying and softening (but not eliminating) divergence is a more realistic goal than perfect peace. Authentication of reconciliation thus emerges from challenge.

The sense of  reconciliation used here for the German-Polish relationship accords with the characterizations of Marek Prawda - reconciliation means the management of diversity in a cooperative framework; of Wladyslaw Bartoszewski – reconciliation incorporates squabbles within a family; and of Dieter Bingen -  reconciliation means a community of fate that involves vicissitudes.10 Reconciliation is a long and difficult process, as German chancellor Willy Brandt noted when writing about German-Polish reconciliation in 1976: “The soil in which reconciliation could flourish required careful spadework.”11 Germany’s first chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, had also used a gardening metaphor when speaking of Franco-German reconciliation and the 1963 friendship treaty between the two countries: “This friendship between France and Germany is like a rose that will always have buds and flowers,” and he added “thorns.”12 It is this dual character of abundant blooms and sharp points that is at the heart of my understanding of reconciliation.

In outlining my framework of reconciliation, I try to answer the basic question of whether German-Polish relations are durable, and therefore reparable, after the downturn in their relationship in the years 2000-2007 (particularly the last two years under Jaroslaw Kaczynski as Prime Minister), or whether they were permanently damaged. The downturn was real, but it has to be considered against the backdrop of the accumulated relationship built over forty years and against the reality of less public, stable and positive institutional relations at both the governmental and societal levels. My approach is to see relations both horizontally (over time) and vertically (across levels). In many respects, the dimensions of reconciliation evident in German-Polish relations can be identified also in Germany’s relations with France, Israel and the Czech Republic.

The Four Dimensions of Reconciliation

In reconciliation, the mix of pragmatism and morality as motives differs depending on history, leadership, institutions and international context, that is the political dynamics of the process. I will address these four dimensions in the German-Polish case and refer to findings from the other cases. Using the four factors permits a full panorama of the relationship rather than a snap-shot.


In the recasting of relations after conflict, there are three sequential factors which may take the form of stages relating to history: the past as stimulus, the acknowledgement of grievances, and the past as present. Looking at “History” in this nuanced sense gives us a greater capacity to situate contemporary German-Polish relations.

The Past as Stimulus

In the Franco-German and German-Israeli cases, the French and Israeli governments were initially very reluctant to deal with Germany because of the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust. These attitudes changed quite quickly, beginning around 1950, and there was a willingness to engage on both sides using moral arguments, as a direct response to the past. There was a similar reticence in Poland, due to the nature of the Nazi crimes. In all three cases, one can describe the starting position as one of enmity. Due to the Cold War, governmental action initiating a process of reconciliation occurred much later in the Polish case, coming only with détente in the 1970s, and even later in the German-Czech case, after 1989.

Religious organizations in society played an important role in lubricating the government process in the cases of France and Israel, just as they did in the German-Polish case in the 1950s and 1960s, as acknowledged by government leaders. As with France and Israel, religious efforts began early in Poland. As with France, in the Polish case it was both Protestant and Catholic actors who led the way, as would be the case much later in the German-Czech example, after 1989. In the German-Israeli case, spiritual initiatives transcended religions, for example the Societies for Christian-Jewish Cooperation (Gesellschaften für christlich-jüdische Zusammenarbeit) and the Protestant-backed Peace with Israel (Friede mit Israel) movement.

Acknowledgment of Grievances

The second stage of history’s shaping role in reconciliation, Germany’s acknowledgment of grievances, involved converting the affective, moral component into pragmatic and material needs and formal political commitment. In the Polish case, as with France, Israel and the Czech Republic, the acknowledgment entailed the language referring to historical issues in bilateral treaties and in major statements as well as symbolic expressions of reconciliation. For example, the December 1970 Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the People’s Republic of Poland on the Basis for Normalizing Their Relations acknowledged Poland as “the first victim” of a murderous World War II and recognized the Oder-Neisse line as Poland’s western border, albeit de facto and not de jure.13

The 1970 Warsaw Treaty between Germany and Poland settled outstanding border issues with the Oder-Neisse line

Other agreements recognizing historical grievances followed: 1972 diplomatic relations; 1990 Border Treaty; 1991 Good Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation Treaty; 1972, 1975 and 1991 compensation payments (without calling them restitution to individuals or reparations to the state); 2000 agreement on slave and forced labor (with Poland providing roughly one quarter of the recipients and receiving approximately one quarter of the funds). The Polish case demonstrates that some issues of history can be frozen and revived only years later, mirroring the German-Israeli case; for example, it was only in 1965, thirteen years after the 1952 Reparations Agreement, that diplomatic relations were concluded between Germany and Israel. In the Czech case, victims of Nazism received their first compensation from Germany only in 1997.

With respect to statements and symbolic events, we should note their appearance before and after 1989. Before 1989 there were at least ten instances in the Polish case, including the 1958 speech at Warsaw university by Carlo Schmid, a key Social Democratic leader, who was also involved in reconciliation with France and Israel; Brandt’s 1970 kneeling at the memorial for the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising; and the 1981 “Package Initiative” (Paket-Initiative) through which ordinary Germans demonstrated their help for Polish society after the promulgation of martial law. There were also ten “firsts” after 1989, including the November 1989 joint mass by Tadeusz Mazowiecki and Helmut Kohl in Krzyzowa/Kreisau; the first speech of a German president, Roman Herzog, for the fiftieth anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising in 1994; the first speech of a Polish Foreign Minister, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, to the German parliament in April 1995; the first speech of a German president, Johannes Rau, to the Sejm in 2004. There are similar examples from Germany’s relations with France, Israel and the Czech Republic: treaties, agreements, statements, symbolic acts that acknowledged past misdeeds, memorialized historical events or asserted a fresh start in relations compared to the past.

Positive manifestations do not preclude missteps such as Chancellor Kohl’s first choice of location for the joint mass with Prime Minister Mazowiecki: Gora Swietej Anny (Annaberg, as it is known in German), which was vigorously rejected by Poles for the Nazis had memorialized there the Germans killed during the Polish uprisings of 1920-21. This faux pas was reminiscent of the German-Israeli case: In 1971, the German government opened its first cultural week in Israel on the anniversary of Kristallnacht.

The Past as Present

The third expression of history’s importance for reconciliation has two main features: (1) debates about the past, which can be divisive but necessary to authenticate the relationship; and (2) affirmative commitments in joint efforts to confront the past. The past is neither forgotten nor represents a mere footnote; rather it is  a “productive irritant” to be confronted constantly. Regarding the debates, there are the three familiar historical issues that have separated Germans and Poles in the period 2000-2007: the Center against Expulsion (Vertreibungszentrum) first proposed by Erika Steinbach (Christian Democratic Union Bundestag member and president of the Federation of Expellees) and to be created in Berlin with official approval; restitution and compensation claims initiated by the Prussian Claims Society (Preußische Treuhand) that provoked the Polish Sejm claim for reparations from Germany to the Polish state; and the return or restitution of confiscated, looted and displaced cultural assets.

Despite many heated debates in society and on the part of politicians, the first and second issues do seem susceptible to resolution by the two governments. Even under the last (Jaroslaw Kaczynski) Polish government, there were bilateral consultations on the Expulsion Center, and a German commitment to Europeanize the subject matter. With the new Donald Tusk government, there seems to be acceptance of the reality of the Center combined with a German-Polish agreement to work collaboratively on joint historical projects such as the exchange of exhibitions and the creation of a World War II museum in Danzig. Yet, the past does not disappear completely, for example in the contentious debate about membership of the board that will oversee the creation of the Expulsion Center.

On the issue of restitution and reparations, in the Schroeder government there were joint German-Polish statements and actions rejecting the Prussian Claims Society’s initiatives and the Sejm’s counter response. Even though Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected Prime Minister Kazcynski’s October 2006 proposal for the mutual relinquishment of claims (the so-called “zero option”), she has repeatedly come out against any German claims for compensation from Poland, most recently during Tusk’s trip to Berlin in December 2007.

The art question seems to be the thorniest in terms of resolution, with entrenched positions on both sides, and German observers labeling cultural property in Poland the “last German prisoners of war.”14 In 2006, Klaus Ziemer, director of the German Historical Institute in Warsaw, proposed that governments draw on the experience of deliberations between German and Polish art historians who together have effected a paradigm shift by developing the concept of “common cultural legacy” (ein gemeinsames Kulturerbe) for sharing rather than a national, sovereign focus.

The “return of the past” has also been evident in German-Czech relations: the property claims of Sudeten Germans; their call for rescission of the immediate postwar Benes Decrees and related laws that permitted expropriation and exonerated Czech excesses in the expulsion of Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia; the prolonged German unwillingness to provide restitution to Czech victims of Nazism; and the planned Expulsion Center in Berlin. In the case of Israel, the past has also returned, both in the statements of the German literary figure Martin Walser about the oppressive obligation to memorialize the Holocaust, and in anti-Semitic statements of the mainstream German politicians Jürgen Möllemann (FDP) and Martin Hohmann (CDU). Like Polish leaders, Israeli leaders have warned Germans not to confuse victims and perpetrators. Concerning anti-Semitism in Germany, while the Israeli government has expressed concern, as Germany’s partner in reconciliation it has also lauded the German government’s efforts to combat this phenomenon. There are also recent, outstanding restitution issues for some citizens of Israel, which the German government has refused to recognize. We should note, however, that Germany has paid 62 billion Euros in total restitution and reparations payments since 1952 (about one third to individual Israelis and the state of Israel). Even in Franco-German relations, where the past has played a lesser role than in the cases of Poland, Israel and the Czech Republic, there was significant concern over President Jacques Chirac’s 2004 invitation to Schröder to attend the commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of D-Day.

Chirac, Schröder and Blair at D-Day Ceremony

The second set of activities dealing on a regular basis with the past, but in an affirmative way, are the actions of various civil society organizations. There are too many to enumerate, but we can identify three that are present in the Polish case and across the other three cases: the bilateral textbook commission, the Action Reconciliation/Service for Peace (Aktion Sühnezeichen/Friedensdienste) and the German Historical Institute. Neither Israel nor the Czech Republic has the latter in formal terms, but they do have some equivalent: the German-Czech Historians Commission (Deutsch-Tschechische Historikerkommission) and the Institutes of German History in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. These three organizations in all cases are linked in their goals (education about the past; inculcation of a “culture of remembrance” - Erinnerungskultur), means (meetings, publications) nature of history (broad conception but with a focus also on World War II and the Holocaust) and effect (creation of bilateral networks; successor generations; and a model for other international dyads).


The second factor determining reconciliation is leadership. In relations of reconciliation, leadership has to be visionary, willing to overcome domestic opposition, and capable of creating leadership duos, often based on personal chemistry with political leaders in the other country, and often spanning ideological lines. In the Franco-German and German-Israeli reconciliation this happened early on with Adenuaer’s special relationship with de Gaulle and with Ben-Gurion, but has continued throughout the life of the relationships (Schmidt-Giscard; Kohl-Mitterrand; Schröder-Chirac) (Brandt-Meir; Strauss-Peres, Fischer-Sharon, Merkel-Olmert). The close personal relationship between Vaclav Havel and Richard von Weizsäcker is often mentioned in the German-Czech case, as is the personal link between Schröder and Czech Prime Minister Spidla. Merkel’s time as a student in Prague, and her ability to speak Czech, contributed to the personal connections she has developed to Czech leaders. In all of these cases, personal ties helped ease difficult political relations.

Unlike in the French and Israeli cases, but similar to the Czech case, during the early years of the Cold War, what Helmut Schmidt described as the “formal” impersonal diplomacy of communism made it difficult to develop friendly relations between German and Polish leaders, but it was not impossible, as the personal ties between Helmut Schmidt and  Edward Gierek demonstrated.

As an East German who grew up in the German Democratic Republic near the Polish border, Angela Merkel has been unique among German chancellors in her ability to connect with Polish leaders on a personal level. Interaction with the new Polish Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz during her December 2005 trip to Warsaw was aided by the fact that both leaders were physicists by training, and that she recognized the personal dimension in all aspects of politics. When relations were tense between Germany and Poland in spring 2007 and needed redirection, both sides sought to develop a positive personal chemistry between Chancellor Merkel and President Lech Kaczynski. With the new Polish government in fall 2007, there was the sense, later borne out, that the long-standing personal connection (since the early 1990s) between Merkel and Donald Tusk would contribute to the airing and resolution of bilateral and EU differences.


Relations of reconciliation are distinguished by a very high degree of bilateral institutionalization at both the societal and governmental levels. The Franco-German tandem, dating from the 1963 Elysée Treaty, is the best known example, but the German-Israeli relationship is a close second, and German-Polish ties also display significant dimensions of institutionalization at both levels. The German-Czech case is the least institutionalized, in part due to the hermetically-sealed nature of Czechoslovak communism after 1968.

Societal Organizations

The plethora of societal connections between Germany and Poland are quite well-known, but five features that cross the four cases bear emphasis: (1)  The institutions are not ad hoc, but exist with regularity over time and involve regeneration; (2) they span every area of societal life from culture to economics, from science to trade unions, from sports encounters to religious organizations,  from sister cities to youth exchange, from German political foundations to individual party ties, from friendship associations to academic connections; (3) they often have as patrons government or former government officials; (4) they maintain independent agendas, even when they receive government funding; and (5) they show solidarity with the bilateral partner in times of official crisis. As in the French and Israeli cases, the Polish-German societal connections predated official relations.

A sixth characteristic of societal organizations in reconciliation relates to their relationships to governments. There are four distinct roles that societal actors can play:

(1) Catalysts, where they provide the initial stimulus for official relations (e.g., lay and church hierarchy in the Polish and French cases; economic actors in the Polish and Israeli cases; academic and student connections in the Polish and Israeli cases; dissidents in the Polish and Czech cases).

(2) Complements, where they augment official behavior on a daily basis (much of the societal activity in the Polish, French, Israeli and Czech cases). 

(3) Conduits, where they perform tasks, e.g. dealing with political oppositions, that officialdom cannot always do. Here we see the German political foundations in the Polish case (offices after 1989) and in the other three country cases with similar goals (confrontation with the past – Aufarbeitung der Vergangenheit; European integration; comparative public policy), means (meetings, exchanges, publications) and outcomes. In the Polish and Czech cases, there was the additional goal of democratization. In the Polish case, before 1989 the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (in the 1970s) and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (after 1982) had contacts that were useful to their German parties in power.

(4) Competitors, where societal actors oppose official behavior (German expellee attitudes regarding the Oder-Neisse border in the 1960s and 1970s; the activity of German non-governmental actors during the emergence of Solidarnosc; the German expellee calls from 2000 on for a Center Against Expulsion). In all three Polish cases, the non-governmental actors influenced governments either in the short-term or the long-term. Recent examples of competition are present in the other country cases, for example the German media criticism of Israel during the second intifada in the Middle East when the German government showed solidarity with Israel; the opposition of the Sudetendeutsche Expellee Association (Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft) to the German government’s strong support of Czech membership in the EU).

Governmental Institutions

As in Franco-German and German-Israeli relations,  the connections between German and Polish societal actors dominated until the first major official breakthrough, in 1970, although there were governmental interactions and institutions in economics beforehand, echoing the priority given to this area in Germany’s relations with Israel (Reparations Agreement 1952) and with France (European Coal and Steel Community 1952). Like the other three cases, German-Polish institutional ties evolved gradually. There have been three main stages of institutional developments: 1970-1989 in which the new legal framework of the 1970 treaty produced new institutions, but in a circumscribed way due to the reality of communism in Poland; 1989-2000, the “golden years” of phenomenal bilateral growth in institutions following the 1989 agreements and the 1991 treaty on the heels of the Cold War’s end;15 and (3) 2000-2007 when the relationship was severely tested by differences between the two governments but institutional developments remained stable.

As with Franco-German and German-Israeli relations and even in the more infant German-Czech partnership, the first hallmark of reconciliation is institutionalization across all policy fields: defense, economics, science and technology, the environment, law, transportation. In the Polish case, as in the French and Czech cases, there is the added dimension of cross-border cooperation. Secondly, parallel to Franco-German and German-Israeli relations, the first period of German-Polish institutionalization did not witness massive proliferation, which then did take place in the second period. As a third feature of institutionalization, there is the creation and realization of a framework for regular government-to-government consultations and visits. As with Franco-German and German-Israeli relations, there are also joint cabinet meetings. German-Polish institutionalization has been deliberately patterned after the Franco-German case.

My focus here is on the third German-Polish period, labeled as “frosty” or an “ice age” from 2000-2007,16 beginning with Erika Steinbach’s initiative for a Center Against Expulsion and continuing with the installation in Poland of the Kaczynski twins. The latter introduced into officialdom a heavy dose of populistic nationalism that meant frequent public criticisms of Germany over history, often in response to societal actors in Germany, such as the Prussian Claims Society, and sometimes in response to German government initiatives, for example the German-Russian gas pipeline agreement between Gerhard Schröder and Vladimir Putin.

Analysts differ over whether this period between 2005-2007 constituted a defining moment for ties, moving them away permanently from partnership, or whether this was a temporary breakdown in an otherwise solid relationship of reconciliation. Observers who emphasize the ingrained nature of differences see only ritual in the relationship. Those who believe that the process of reconciliation has not been irretrievably interrupted emphasize the strength of societal ties, and the blending of interests and values that join Poland and Germany. As in German-Israeli, Franco-German and German-Czech relations, reconciliation is occasionally punctuated by crisis. The test of reconciliation is the ability to weather such periods.

The view advanced here is one of optimism for German-Polish relations, where reconciliation’s robustness is borne out by three developments in the period 2000-2007: the continuity and purpose of bilateral visits; the style and substance of statements about the relationship; and the nature of proposed solutions to disputes.

Continuity and Purpose. With the exception of Lech Kaczynski’s June 2006 cancellation of a Weimar Triangle (Germany, France and Poland) meeting after he was lampooned by the German paper die tageszeitung, there was a regular exchange of visits at the level of heads of government and state, including President Köhler (August 2005 and May 2006), Chancellor Merkel (December 2005 and March 2007), President Lech Kaczynski (March 2006) and Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski (October 2006). There were also six joint meetings between the two cabinets in the period 2000 and 2006, as well as frequent meetings of the defense ministers and foreign ministers. The uniform purpose, even on the Polish side, was to “improve” and “deepen” the relationship.17

Style and Substance. The German government used the occasion of visits to be non-confrontational and patient in style, with the goal of not inflaming relations. Polish leaders during visits also tried to be less confrontational than on other occasions, reprising a German emphasis on the need for openness, honesty and a constructive approach to differences.18 The sober and pragmatic style of Germany in these visits was accompanied by references to the substance of relations as a “partnership” denoted by “trust” and “friendship”, as well as a sensitivity to the “dark chapters” of German history, indirectly elevating the moral dimension of ties, quite similar to the characterization of German-Israeli and Franco-German relations in their mature stage.19

Solutions to Disputes.  Institutional responses to problems in German-Polish relations took two forms: the establishment of a broad framework to help guide relations, and the creation of issue-specific mechanisms. Already in late 2004 (taking effect in 2005), there were two major responses to the difficulties in relations surrounding the reparations and restitution issue: the appointment in the German and Polish foreign ministries of Coordinators for German-Polish Societal and Cross-Border Cooperation, and the announcement of the German-Polish Year under the patronage of the German and Polish presidents. These choices reminded one of the developments in Franco-German relations with the inauguration of the Blaesheim Process of even more regular official meetings (following the Franco-German discord at the 2000 EU Nice summit on new decision-making rules) and the creation of a second level of coordinators (as part of the 40th anniversary of the Elysée treaty in 2003). Issue-specific consultation mechanisms in German-Polish relations included the working group on energy and the dialogue between the German Minister of State for Culture and the Polish Culture Minister over the Center for Expulsion.

Finally, beyond the highly public institutional responses to general and specific problems, the optimistic scenario would point to the quotidian, detailed and often quiet policy cooperation between 2000 and 2007 in three policy arenas: cross-border activity, the environment and defense.

International Context

”International Context” covers both the larger global setting (relations with the US, with Russia and NATO) and the specific regional framework of the EU. On the issue of relations with the US and Russia, Germany and Poland continued to disagree over the German-Russian gas pipeline, over US policy in Iraq and over missile defense (before the Russian invasion of Georgia), although the Tusk government is looking for a détente with Russia and for less of a lock-step with the US.  Other ties of reconciliation have tolerated well such differences, for example concerning the US in German-Israeli relations and concerning Russia in German-Czech relations. NATO has constituted an important framework within which German-Czech and German-Polish close military ties have evolved, both before membership in the Partnership for Peace and since. At the same time, the two East European countries have differed with Germany over NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine.

The dominant international framework for reconciliation has been the EU, and here again we can identify the dualities that have marked the other three factors of reconciliation we have considered so far. Similar to the case of Israel’s Free Trade Agreement, Association Agreement and Action Plan with the EU, Germany has been the key advocate for Poland (and the Czech Republic) in every step towards membership. Yet, the reality of Poland’s EU membership has revealed differences with Germany over the budget, constitutional questions and the climate and energy package. All three issues were resolved with Germany extending itself beyond the regular, formal negotiations in order to secure an agreement with Poland. We should remember that divergence does not have to be debilitating. In the case of the Franco-German pair in the EU, research has shown that the larger the initial policy divergence, the greater the ultimate jointness and influence, for example on economic and monetary union and common foreign and security policy.20 There is barely an economic or foreign policy arena in the EU in which France and Germany have not floated joint proposals. A growing sense of common purpose can be seen in the German-Polish efforts toward democratization in Ukraine (e.g., the joint visit of the German and Polish foreign ministers to Kiev) and towards the EU’s Eastern Partnership (with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine).

There is an additional point that leads one to long-term optimism concerning the German-Polish dyad in the EU. As in the bilateral relationship, divergence is necessary to authenticate the relationship. By asserting itself in contentious policy debates, Poland feels it is converting into fact, even if tentatively, the theoretical formula of equality of rights and responsibilities of all EU member-states.21 As with France, the Polish sense of greater structural symmetry between Germany and Poland is an important ingredient of reconciliation.


This essay has provided the main contours of German-Polish reconciliation and of its navigation of treacherous history issues; and has indicated that similar features define Germany’s other reconciliations, notably those with France, Israel and the Czech Republic. While the Japanese case is clearly in its infancy, a sketch of Japan’s new reconciliation thinking and tentative practice is worthwhile along the four dimensions outlined at the beginning of the German case. Without doubt, the process in Northeast Asia will be long and difficult, requiring extreme patience on the part of governments and societies in an environment of in-grown skepticism and deep tradition. Yet as the German case demonstrates, small initial steps can yield to larger strides even when “many stones are scattered on the path” of reconciliation.22 Moreover, Sino-Japanese and Japanese-South Korean relations are not starting from square one: there are already powerful economic and financial links and vibrant ties in popular culture.


The new Japanese government has expressed its intention to be pro-active regarding the past, as in Prime Minister Hatoyama’s statement to the South Korean President during a September 2009 meeting at the UN: “The new Democratic Party of Japan has the courage to face up to history.”23 Foreign Minister Okada repeated this perspective in his commitment to the 1995 statement by Prime Minister Murayama Tomiichi apology for Japan’s past behavior in the region. In the February 2010 report of a joint Sino-Japanese history study, endorsed by the two governments, for the first time Japan agreed to use “aggression” to characterize its behavior toward China from 1937 to 1945.24 While there was no agreement about the number of Chinese killed in the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, the study was based on a common periodization. In many ways, it is an auspicious start that could learn useful lessons from the way the German-Czech Historians Commission has proceeded, including its willingness to entertain differing perspectives on history within a framework of ongoing dialogue and engagement. Similarly, in a February 2010 visit to South Korea Foreign Minister Okada expressed his regret for the Japanese occupation of Korea.25

The reasoning of Prime Minister Hatoyama and Foreign Minister Okada appears both philosophical - as outlined below - and pragmatic - the need for a new approach to an expansive China. Three specific historical disputes still clog the road to reconciliation: rights and demands of victims’ groups, including Korean and Chinese sex slaves (“comfort women”) and slave laborers; textbook issues; and territorial disputes.

On the first issue, as an opposition party since 2000, together with the Social Democratic Party and the Communist Party, the DPJ initiated repeatedly bills in the Diet to address the emotional and material needs of “comfort women.” Yet, the Japanese legal system has proved unbending in its rejection of Korean and Chinese victims’ claims, arguing that the compensation issue had been made moot by post-war Sino-Japanese (Joint Statement) and Japanese-South Korean (1965 treaty) agreements.26

Whether apology will now take the form the victims require – a resolution of the Diet, not just of the government – is unclear, but two aspects of the German slave labor case are relevant. First, the passage of time (six decades for Germany) mitigates neither the victims’ pain nor the perpetrators’ responsibility for action. Second, pragmatic motives (American lawsuits) had to be joined by moral imperative (President Rau’s apology and request for forgiveness) to make the German slave labor negotiations successful. The general issue of apology appears to dominate the debate about appropriate Japanese initiatives. In all four German cases, the government faced significant domestic opposition to reconciliation overtures, including acknowledgement of grievances (a form of apology), yet persevered as an affirmation of the genuine desire for reconciliation without major domestic consequence. Germany has also demonstrated that legal formalities do not preclude governments from making extra-legal political exceptions: first in its decision in the 1950s to initiate reparations negotiations with Israel, a country that did not exist at the time of the Holocaust; and second in the “special funds” it created on various occasions for individual Jewish victims who were excluded from German domestic compensation legislation.

Regarding the history textbook issue, Japanese textbook characterization of the past continues to divide Japan and her neighbors, although Prime Minister Hatoyama has tried to moderate the tone.27 At the same time, the new Japanese Foreign Minister has been quick to suggest a government-sanctioned common history textbook among Japan, South Korea and China to build on the existing trilateral work of scholars. Critics of the idea point to the fact that it took six decades for France and Germany to write and use a government-sponsored common history book. What is overlooked is the fact that there were path-breaking achievements long before the book: the early creation of a Franco-German textbook commission and the conclusion already in 1951, shortly after the war, of a “Franco-German Agreement on Contentious Questions of European History.” The commission periodically produces recommendations for the teaching of history and geography. The Franco-German experience was not unique: even during communism in Poland, the German-Polish textbook commission could be created and issue recommendations for teaching history as early as the 1970s. And similar commissions have produced results in the German-Israeli and German-Czech cases. While the product is important, the process of jointly confronting the past with the goal of airing differences, and not history’s homogenization, is a fruitful end itself.

Territorial issues deeply divide governments and societies in Northeast Asia. Prime Minster Hatoyama has called for accelerating negotiations for a treaty that would make possible joint development of undersea resources between China and Japan, and sees the Dokdo/Takeshima islands as contested between Japan and South Korea (rather than belonging to Japan).  However, observers are skeptical of any rapid movement on territorial disputes over either the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands or the Dokdo/Takeshima islands, and, therefore, of the prospects for reconciliation in general. Again, the German-Polish case is instructive: it was not until German unification in 1990 that Germany recognized de jure the Oder-Neisse border with Poland, although it had been recognized de facto in 1970 as part of Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik. During the intervening twenty years, Germany and Poland were building important governmental and societal networks even as Poland’s desire for de jure recognition of the border went unfulfilled.

A final dimension of “History” is the occurrence of symbolic events that can either propel or impair the chances of reconciliation. Past visits to the Yasukuni Shrine by Japanese Prime Ministers clearly disturbed China and South Korea. Hatoyama not only has promised not to make such visits, but acted vigorously on his commitment. When over fifty Japanese lawmakers visited the shrine for the annual fall festival in October 2009, no member of Hatoyama’s cabinet participated. Another action of immense symbolic complexity is South Korean president Lee Myung-bak’s invitation to Japanese Emperor Akihito to visit Seoul in 2010, the centennial of Japan’s annexation of Korea. Similarly, there is the initiative for Prime Minister Hatoyama to visit Nanjing to apologize for the 1937 massacre and for Chinese President Hu subsequently to visit Hiroshima as an expression of Chinese peaceful aspirations.28 Even if the visits do not ultimately materialize, the German cases suggest that the joint process of trying to fashion symbolic events can itself contribute to reconciliation.


It is too soon to tell whether Hatoyama’s new style of domestic politics prioritizing reconciliation in East Asia will succeed and how other East Asian leaders will respond with their own agendas, but we do know that his approach of emphasizing yu-ai (fraternity, friendliness) does color his foreign policy philosophy. It encompasses cooperation and mutual respect while recognizing differences.29 Hatoyama specifically used the term to characterize his goals vis-à-vis China, including his call to view the East China Sea as a “sea of fraternity” rather than a “sea of conflict.”30 His leadership has also been demonstrated in the speed with which he has met with South Korean and Chinese leaders: at the UN in New York, in Seoul, in Beijing for trilateral meetings and in Thailand for the ASEAN-plus meetings – all within one month. South Korean and Chinese leaders are certainly looking to Japan for initiatives in reshaping relations.31 Noteworthy in the German cases was the reality that on a number of occasions it was leaders in the victim countries, for example Robert Schuman in France and Vaclav Havel in Czechoslovakia, who made overtures concerning reconciliation.


The trilateral meeting among Japan, China and South Korea in Beijing on October 10, 2009 was only the second time the threesome had met outside the ASEAN-plus 3 meetings (the first was in December 2008 in Japan).

Lee, Wen and Hatoyama meet in Beijing

The joint statement that emerged gave a clear indication of intentions, even if the mechanisms will take time to fashion: There were agreements to “1) build mutual trust in the political field, 2) deepen economic cooperation taking full advantage of high complementarities of the three economies, 3) expand people-to-people exchanges, 4) develop regional and sub-regional cooperation, and 5) actively respond to global issues.” They also agreed to confront together “sensitive issues,” meaning the past.32 Three immediate challenges identified for continued deliberation by the triad are economic cooperation, the environment, and North Korean de-nuclearization, all highly practical issues. The long-term perspective includes a plan for a free-trade area. The senior-level diplomatic dialogue, launched in 2007, then met in February 2010 to implement the Beijing summit’s conclusions.  Additionally, South Korea is pushing for security to be part of trilateral deliberations. As they seek to develop trilateral cooperation, the Weimar Triangle, created among Germany, France, and Poland in 1991 (combining two sets of reconciliation), could furnish lessons in terms of sectors of cooperation, mechanisms, and barriers to exchange.

On the bilateral front, in the Sino-Japanese and Japanese-Korean relationships both high politics issues, such as defense and North Korea, and technical issues, such as economic cooperation, food safety and green technology, have been on the agenda of the numerous official and bureaucratic visits in the first six months of the Hatoyama government. Our Franco-German and German-Israeli reconciliation cases indicate the early priority to defense and economics, while the German-Polish and German-Czech examples point to the importance of economic and technical issues during communism and defense only after the end of the Cold War.

In his October 26, 2009 major policy address to the Diet, Prime Minister Hatoyama emphasized the active role of citizens and society in his new vision of politics. This initiative, if it bears fruit, could begin to counter the argument that German reconciliation’s central role for civil society cannot be replicated in the Japanese case where non-governmental actors have been anemic due to legal and financial strictures. Indeed, the role of non-governmental organizations are evident as Hatoyama reaches out to South Korea and China. The first China-Japan-Republic of Korea Business Summit was held in Beijing in October, highlighting the role the private sector can play in new commercial and trade connections. Prior to his trip to Beijing, the chairman of the Japan Business Federation impressed on Hatoyama the need for an intensification of economic relations with China, while protecting Japan’s intellectual property rights.

Just before Hatoyama’s visit to Seoul in October more than thirty Japanese civil society groups (including “comfort women” and slave labor representatives) welcomed the Prime Minister’s views on history, while repeating their demands for apology and compensation. At the end of October, the citizens’ group Japan Network on Wartime Sexual Violence Against Women reiterated their concerns in a meeting with DPJ Diet members. There, the DPJ’s Tsuji Megumi underlined the cost of inaction for Japanese plans for an East Asian Community: “If we don’t solve this problem, it would be impossible for Japan to speak out to East Asia on an equal footing.”33 When Korean “comfort women” mounted their nine hundredth protest before the Japanese Embassy in Seoul in January, Japanese civil society groups in Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka organized signature collection drives to support the victims’ goals.34

International Context

There is no clarity regarding the role the US might play in fledgling reconciliation efforts by the Japanese government due to the turmoil in the US-Japan relationship itself as Hatoyama calls for a more equal economic and security relationship, moves that were met with stern admonition during Secretary of Defense Robert Gates October, 2009 visit to Japan.35 There is greater clarity about the new Japanese government’s goal of pragmatic cooperation concerning the creation of a regional East Asian Community (EAC), even if the precise form remains elusive. According to Foreign Minister Okada, the US would not be part of the EAC, which has some American observers concerned while others view it as a vehicle to embed China in a way that serves American interests.36 Relying specifically on the Franco-German model (the 1950 Schuman Plan) that led to the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952 and the European Economic Community in 1958, the proposal appears to involve an ASEAN plus 3 arrangement, but issues of wider membership remain unresolved. As plans for a regional organization evolve, Japan’s new government should keep in mind that the novelty of the Franco-German model was the surrender of sovereignty by both countries, a sui generis departure in international relations. Rather than the supranational features of the current European Union, its intergovernmental dimensions are more relevant, as are the practices of other postwar economic intergovernmental organizations such as the European Free Trade Area. The European experience, while not fully replicable, does tell us that bilateral reconciliation and regional reconciliation go hand in hand. The same is surely true with respect to the three East Asian powers, China, Japan and South Korea, and could have important repercussions for relations with North Korea as well.

As the new Japanese government explores possibilities for reconciliation, it would behoove it to take from the German experience the insight that divergence, debate and dissension are a natural part of relations of reconciliation, and that crisis is necessary to test and authenticate the new relationship. Reconciliation is distinguished from lesser partnerships by its ability to manage differences in a cooperative framework. This view is clear in the words of Willy Brandt, writing about Franco-German reconciliation decades ago:

Bonn…[took] advantage of the … occasion to point out that the two nations’ special circumstances would continue to yield differences of interest and opinion in many fields. Friendship did not connote a neglect of one’s own interests or a lack of candor towards others.37

In the end, then, reconciliation is about both realism and idealism, a fact Prime Minister Hatoyama seems to have recognized. Whether his notion of reconciliation resonates fully with China and South Korea remains to be seen.


Lily Gardner-Feldman is the Harry and Helen Gray Senior Fellow and Director of the Society, Culture & Politics Program at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies/The Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of Germany’s Foreign Policy of Reconciliation: From Enmity to Amity, Rowman & Littlefield, 2012.

Recommended citation: Lily Gardner-Feldman, "German-Polish Reconciliation in Comparative Perspective: Lessons for Japan?" The Asia-Pacific Journal, 16-1-10, April 19, 2010.


1 This essay is based on a lecture on German-Polish relations given February 25, 2008 at the German Historical Institute in Warsaw, with sponsorship from the Center for International Relations and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Warsaw. The ideas presented are drawn from the author’s book From Enmity to Amity, forthcoming. Copyright: Lily Gardner Feldman 2010.

2 On territorial disputes, see: Reinhard Drifte, “Territorial Conflicts in the East China Sea – From Missed Opportunities to Negotiation Stalemate,” The Asia-Pacific Journal. On Aso mining see: Michael Bazyler, “Japan Should Follow the International Trend and Face Its History of World War II Forced Labor,” The Asia-Pacific Journal. On textbook issues, see: Yoshiko Nozaki and Mark Selden, “Japanese Textbook Controversies, Nationalism and Historical Memory: Intra- and Inter-national Conflicts,” The Asia-Pacific Journal.

3 On the Yomiuri project, see: “Tessa Morris-Suzuki, Who is Responsible? The Yomiuri Project and the Enduring Legacy of the Asia-Pacific War,” The Asia-Pacific Journal.

4 Sven Saaler, Politics, Memory and Public Opinion. The History Textbook Controversy and Japanese Society (Tokyo: Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien, 2005), 168. Phillip A. Seaton reaches a similar conclusion in Japan’s Contested Memories: The ‘Memory Rifts’ in Historical Consciousness of World War II (London and New York: Routledge, 2007).

5 See, for example, Masaru Tamamoto, “After the Tsunami, How Can Japan Lead,” Far East Economic Review, Jan/Feb 2005; James C. Hsiung, “Periscoping the Future: Will China and Japan Ever Be Like France and Germany?” in James C. Hsiung, ed., China and Japan at Odds. Deciphering the Perpetual Conflict (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007); Linbo Jin, “Historical Disputes in Sino-Japanese Relations,” paper presented to the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies, Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C., 9 June 2009; Youngshik Bong, “Domestic Politics of Dokdo,” paper presented to the conference “Dokdo, Takeshima, Liancourt Rocks: History, Territory, and Sovereignty in Northeast Asia,”  School of Advanced International Studies/Johns Hopkins University, Washington, D.C., 26 June 2009. 

6 One of the earliest comparative examinations is Ernestine Schlant and J. Thomas Rimer, Legacies and Ambiguities: Postwar Fiction and Culture in West Germany and Japan (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991). More recent publications include Takashi Inoguchi and Lyn Jackson, Memories of War: The Second World War and Japanese Historical Memory in Comparative Perspective (Tokyo: The United Nations University Press, 1998); Akiko Hashimoto, “Japanese and German Projects of Moral Recovery: Toward a New Understanding of War Memories in Defeated Nations,” Occasional Papers in Japanese Studies, March 1999, Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University; Charles S. Maier, “Foreword” in Joshua A. Fogel, ed., The Nanjing Massacre in History and Historiography (Berkeley: University of California, 2000); Sebastian Conrad, “Entangled Memories: Versions of the Past in Germany and Japan, 1945-2001,” in Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 38 (1), 2003; Gi-Wook Shin, Soon-Won Park, and Daqing Yang, “Introduction”;  and Andrew Horvat, “A Strong State, Weak Civil Society, and Cold War Geopolitics: Why Japan Lags Behind Europe in Confronting a Negative Past,” in Gi-Wook Shin, Soon-Won Park, and Daqing Yang, eds., Rethinking Historical Injustice and Reconciliation in Northeast Asia. The Korean Experience (London and New York: Routledge, 2007); Thomas U. Berger, “A Model Penitent? German Historical Memory and Foreign Policy in Comparative Perspective,” paper presented to the 47th ISA Convention, San Diego, California, 23 March 2006; Thomas U. Berger, “Dealing with Difficult Pasts: Japan’s ‘History Problem’ from a Theoretical and Comparative Perspective,” in Kazuhiko Togo and Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, eds., East Asia’s Haunted Present: Historical Memories and the Resurgence of Nationalism (Westport, Conn: Praeger Security International, 2008); Julian Dierkes, Postwar History Education in  Japan and the Germanys. Guilty Lessons (London and New York: Routledge, 2010); Soon-Won Park, “History that Opens to the Future: the First Common History of Northeast Asia”; and Daniel Chirot, “Europe’s Troubled World War II Memories: Are They That Different?” in Gi-Wook Shin and Daniel Sneider, eds., Divided Memories: History Textbooks and the Wars in Asia (London and New York: Routledge, 2010 forthcoming). 

7 On the German-Polish comparison, see Yinan He, The Search for Reconciliation. Sino-Japanese and German-Polish Relations Since World War II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009). On the Franco-German comparison, see Jennifer Lind, Sorry States. Apologies in International Politics (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2008).  As suggested above, this work does not capture the complexity and ambiguity that have characterized the German case. A further comparative work that looks beyond memory and apology by considering the role of political leadership and NGOs is Yangmo Ku, “International Reconciliation in the Postwar Era, 1945-2005: A Comparative Study of Japan-ROK and Franco-German Relations,” Asian Perspective, vol. 32, no. 3, 2008.

8 Thomas U. Berger, Different Beds, Same Nightmare: The Politics of History in Germany and Japan, AICGS Policy Report no. 39 (Washington, D.C.: The American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, 2009).

9 For the dual meaning, see: Artur Hajnicz, Polens Wende und Deutschlands Vereinigung. Die Öffnung zur Normalität (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 1995), pp. 142-61.

10 See Marek Prawda’s statement when Ambassador to Sweden at the Stockholm International Forum Truth, Justice and Reconciliation, April 23-24, 2002 here (accessed December 15, 2002); the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung interview with Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, March 29, 2007 here (accessed April 17, 2007); Dieter Bingen, “Die deutsch-polnischen Beziehungen und die polnische Innenpolitik. Bilanz 15 Jahre nach der Unterzeichnung des Partnerschaftsvertrags,” June 28, 2006, Hamburg University, Ringvorlesung “Osteuropa heute” here (accessed January 23, 2007). 

11 Willy Brandt, People and Politics: The Years 1960-1975 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company: 1978), p. 181.  

12 For the text of the exchange between Adenauer and de Gaulle on the 1963 Franco-German friendship treaty, using the rose metaphor, see: André Passeron, De Gaulle Parle 1962-1966 (Paris: Fayard, 1966), p. 341.

13 According to the 1945 Potsdam Agreement among the US, France, the UK and the Soviet Union, formal recognition of the border would have to await a settlement between the four powers and a united Germany.

14 Reinhard Müller, “Rückgabe von Beutekunst. Die letzten deutschen Kriegsgefangenen,” Frankfurter Allgemeine FAZ.NET, July 26, 2007 here. Konrad Schuller, “Streit um ‘Beutekunst’. Goethe in Krakau,” Frankfurter Allgemeine FAZ.NET, July 27, 2007 here (accessed January 8, 2008).

15 The term is Dieter Bingen’s. See “Die deutsch-polnischen Beziehungen nach 1945,” Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, 5-6/2005, January 31, 2005.

16 Thomas Roser, “Deutsch-polnische Beziehungen; Schwieriger Gast, Frankfurter Rundschau, October 30, 2006; Spiegel Online, ,”Merkel wünscht sich Freundschaft zu Polen,” Spiegel Online, October 28, 2006.

17 See, for example, Jacques Schuster, “Polens Präsident verabschiedet sich mit Gesprächsangeboten aus Berlin,” Die Welt, March 10, 2006; Sybille Korte, “Erste positive Signale nach Monaten der Abkühlung,” Agence France Presse, October 27, 2006; Associated Press, “Merkel für bessere Zusammenarbeit mit Polen in der EU,” Associated Press, October 28, 2006; Associated Press, “Steinmeier wirbt für Verbesserung von deutsch-polnischem Verhältnis,” Associated Press, October 26, 2006.

18 Der Bundespräsident, “Tischrede von Bundespräsident Horst Köhler beim Abendessen zu Ehren des polnischen Präsidenten Lech Kaczynski und Frau Maria Kaczynski im Schloss Bellevue,” March 8, 2006 here (accessed May 19, 2006); Agence France Presse, “Kaczynski: Gute Beziehungen wichtig für Polen und Deutschland,” Agence France Presse, March 8, 2006; General-Anzeiger (Bonn), “Kein Grund zur Sorge,” General-Anzeiger (Bonn), October 30, 2006.

19 Bundesregierung, “Nie wieder Politik zu Lasten unserer Nachbarn,” December 2, 2005, here (accessed December 12, 2005); Bundeskanzlerin, “Looking ahead to the Future in German-Polish Relations,” December 2, 2005 here (accessed January 17, 2006);  Süddeutsche Zeitung,” Polen will Zwist mit Deutschland beilegen,” Süddeutsche Zeitung, March 9, 2006; Holger Schmale, “Der Charme des kleinen Mannes,” Berliner Zeitung, March 31, 2006; Michael Fischer, “Neuer Ton in den deutsch-polnischen Beziehungen,” Associated Press, October 30, 2006; Die Bundeskanzlerin, “Rede von Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel an der Universität Warschau,” March 16, 2007 here (accessed March 20, 2007); Associated Press, “Merkel: Wir wollen freundschaftliches Verhältnis zu Polen,” Associated Press, October 28, 2006.

20 On the relationship between initial divergence on the one hand and ultimate jointness and influence on the other, see: Douglas Webber, ed., The Franco-German Relationship in the European Union (London and New York: Routledge, 1999), particularly “Conclusions.”

21 Interview with Janusz Reiter, former Polish ambassador to Germany, Der Spiegel, no. 2, January 7, 2008.

22 This is the title of a book by one of the important societal architects of German-Israeli reconciliation, Erich Lüth

23 Quoted in The Korea Herald, September 25, 2009.

24 China Daily, “Japan Admits War ‘Act of Aggression,’” China Daily, February 2, 2010.

25 The Japan Times, “Foreign Minister in Seoul,” The Japan Times, February 14, 2010.

26 BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific, “China Blasts Japan Court Ruling on Compensation for Wartime Sex Slaves,” BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific, March 5, 2010; China Daily, “China Goads Japan for Quick Action on Sex Slaves,” China Daily, March 6, 2010; Jung Sung-ki, “Tokyo urged to Compensate for ‘Comfort Women,” Korea Times, March 15, 2010; Korea Times, “Individual War Victims,” Korea Times, March 15, 2010.

27 BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific, “South Korea Raps Japan’s New Education Handbook on Disputed Islands,” BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific, December 25, 2009.

28 BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific, “Japan Seeks ‘New Beginning’ with South Korea in 2010 – Envoy,” BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific, January 28, 2010; Martin Fackler, “With Japan, U.S. May Be Losing Diplomatic Ground to China,” The New York Times, January 24, 2010

29 BBC Worldwide Monitoring, “Japan PM Interviewed on ‘Enriching’ Japan-China Ties,” BBC Worldwide Monitoring, October 9, 2009.

30 Quoted in David McNeill, “New Japanese Prime Minister Aims to Spread a Little love Among Asian Rivals,” The Irish Times, October 23, 2009.

31 Na Jeong-ju, “”Lee, Hatoyama Vow Constructive Ties,” Korea Times, September 24, 2009; BBC Worldwide Monitoring, “China-Japan Ties Get Good Statr in Japan’s New Government – Official,” BBC Worldwide Monitoring, October 9, 2009.

32 The Korea Herald, “Korea, China, Japan,” The Korea Herald, October 14, 2009.

33 Quoted in Mariko Kato, “’Comfort Women’ Bill Gets New Life,” The Japan Times, October 29, 2009.

34 Oh Young-jin, “Ex-‘Comfort Women’ To Hold 900th Protest,” Korea Times, January 10, 2010.

35 For an overview of US-Japan relations with the new Hatoyama government, see: Congressional Research Service, “Japan-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress,” CRS Report for Congress, 7-5700, November 25, 2009. See also: Mark Beeson, “East Asian Regionalism and the End of the Asia-Pacific: After American Hegemony,” The Asia-Pacific Journal; and Mark Beeson, “The United States and East Asia: The Decline of Long-Distance Leadership,” The Asia-Pacific Journal.

36 G. John Ikenberry and Charles A. Kupchan article, “A New Japan, a New Asia,” The New York Times, January 22, 2010.

37 Brandt, People and Politics, p. 129.