Abe and Blair: Political Apologies, East and West

Apologies are never easy. Negotiating and uttering a national apology about war-time activities is especially challenging and sensitive, charged with strategic implications. And thanks to the profusion of digital media, questionable actions of the past are ever present in public view, crying out for justice and apology.

As apologies come they also invite comparison, and two recent high-profile apologies highlight differences between East and West: On the cusp of the New Year, Japan’s hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued a surprising, yet highly specific apology for  sex slavery in Korea before and during World War II. Earlier in October, during a television interview, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair offered a less official and partial apology, not for the Iraq war, but for relying on misleading information before the 2003 invasion and misunderstanding the consequences of regime change.