Why do countries apologize? Contrition and historical memory in international politics [article]

Tamar Farchy
The use of official apologies has arisen to prominence in the field of international relations and diplomacy. Nowadays, countries are expected to issue apologies for their wrongdoings, even in the case of war. This research attempt to answer the question: why do countries apologize for wartime atrocities? Using a theory-testing, case study method, this study analyzed several motivating variables of apology for four case countries: Germany, France, Japan, and the United States. The cases were
more » ... lyzed through four general competing motivating theories for apology: post-war victory status, regional integration, international pressure, and domestic political and societal atmosphere. The study showed that while all theories had merit and often intersected or worked in conjunction to influence apologies, whether or not a country apologizes is rooted fundamentally in the domestic political and social considerations. International factors can matter, but the consistently compelling factor for each of the states was the level of civil society remembrance and guilt for the atrocities committed and acceptance of historical truths. Countries that engage in historical revisionism and suppress accurate remembrances of war crimes are unlikely to issue apologies, whereas countries that embrace historical accuracy and ingrain responsibility and guilt into their collective memory are far more likely to issue apologies.
doi:10.15781/t27659z6c fatcat:ptqk6np2zrgvrmuifssehhubny