The Politics of Forgetting and Remembering: Germany and Japan

All three Axis Powers—Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and Fascist Italy—were threatened at the Casablanca Conference in January 1943 by President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill that they would face “unconditional surrender”, yet only Germany became a target of that terminal condition after the war. Mussolini was overthrown in Fascist Italy in July 1943, after the landing of the Allies in Sicily in the same month. The commander of the American occupation forces in Japan, General MacArthur, kept the Japanese Emperor system formally in place and protected Emperor Hirohito from being charged and prosecuted at the International Military Tribunal of the Far East in 1946–48 for the war crimes the imperial army had committed in China since 1931. Remaining the symbolic figurehead of Japan until his natural death in 1989, his non-prosecution negatively affected the processing of the past in Japan. The lasting unwillingness of the Japanese political class to formally apologize for the crimes committed by the imperial army still overshadows North-East Asia.

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Manfred Henningsen
Lecture in English

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