Commemorations are in general highly political acts; in East Asia, the period around the anniversary of Japan's surrender on August 15 has, for some time now, become highly politicized. It is a moment in which postwar Japan performs its attitude toward its war responsibility and aggressive acts-performances that are invariably evaluated for their sincerity, or lack thereof. At the same time, nation states who suffered Japan's wartime aggressions use the period to present their understanding of the history of Japan's wartime conduct and, as is often the case, to include a criticism of the perceived inadequacies of Japan's contrition. The end of the war and its commemoration in East Asia are thus, in this sense, a proxy stage on which some nation states fight the history war. Political actors were not unaware of how the commemorations in 2015 had the potential to function as a way to criticize Japan, as suggested by Taiwanese president Ma Ying-Jeou's comments in an interview with Japanese journalists about his confidence that Taiwan's commemoration of the war's end would not hurt the relationship between Taiwan and Japan. Commemorations of the war in East Asia do not necessarily have to take on these meanings, but in 2015 they took on significations that exceeded their meanings for individual countries and became collectively a circuit of "commemoration as critique." Singapore however, has little use for this kind of commemoration for it sees itself as having long since achieved a reconciliation with Japan on the question of Japan's war responsibility in WWII and its conduct in Singapore, and this paper traces the history of this condition.
Copyright © 2018 The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. This chapter first appeared in Memory, Identity and Commemorations of World War II: Anniversary Politics in Asia Pacific.
Edited by: Daqing Yang, Mike Mochizuki and Akira Iriye
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Loo, Tze M. "Singapore: Commemoration and Reconciliation." In Memory, Identity, and Commemorations of World War II: Anniversary Politics in Asia Pacific, edited by Daqing Yang, Mike Mochizuki, and Akira Iriye, 89-108. Lanham, Maryland: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc., 2018.