Why Germany and Japan went in wildly different directions after World War II
After World War II, Germany was divided and occupied. Japan was largely left alone. Now Germany is a world leader in building unity, and Japan has turned to ultra-nationalism, writes former Australian ambassador to Japan John Menadue.
For all its atrocities in the 1930s and 1940s, Germany has become an exemplar country promoting prosperity and peace. Angela Merkel stands out as a world leader more than any other. By contrast, Japan has again become a divisive country in its region and its Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has been acquiescing and promoting an ultra-nationalist cause. Germany quickly came to terms with its past. Japan has refused to.
Both countries were reviled in 1945 for their crimes against humanity. Since then Germany has rebuilt its economy and political institutions. West and East Germany are now united. Germany has been the key country in building European unity after centuries of disastrous wars. Long may that continue, despite the folly of Brexit.