When the past haunts the present: Intergroup forgiveness and historical closure in post World War II societies in Asia and in Europe
Contact: James Liu
Intergroup forgiveness is important for international relations and was especially crucial after World War II. Germany and Japan, both perpetrators in World War II, have adopted different strategies to ask their neighbour’s forgiveness.
This research looks at the level of intergroup forgiveness in six different countries of Asia (China, Taiwan and the Philippines) and Europe (France, Poland and Russia) and the relation between intergroup forgiveness and important historical and political context variables.
It looks at:
- Historical closure - the perception of people if the past is a closed book or still affecting the present Perceived costs of forgiveness (e.g. loss of power over another country)
- Collective guilt assignment- the perception that a group has violated certain norms or values
- Group-based anger
- Out-group trust
- National identity
- The number of issued apologises from one country to another
The research is able to explain why the European relations are better than Asian relations regarding reconciliation.
The six countries differed in their forgiveness for either Japan or Germany.
- French participants were most and Chinese participants least willing to forgive Germany or Japan for its war crimes.
- French and Russian participants showed the most closure to the past and Chinese the least.
- French participants were less angry, perceived less costs of forgiveness, assigned less guilt, reported less national identity and showed more trust to Germany than did Chinese participants to Japan.
- Poland, Russia, Taiwan and the Philippines could be ranked in-between France and China.
- Japanese politicians apologised much more often than the Germans.
Historical closure, perceived costs of forgiveness, collective guilt assignment, group based anger, out-group trust, national identity and the number of issued apologises are strongly associated with intergroup forgiveness.
You can access the article "When the past haunts the present: Intergroup forgiveness and historical closure in post World War II societies in Asia and in Europe" here.