Wednesday, April 12, 2006

All former enemies are created equal...but...

In a notice announcing Dr. Lily Gardner Feldman's very stimulating presentation on postwar reconciliation held last week at Temple University Japan, Andrew Horvat tossed out some rather surprising figures comparing the wealth of civil society organizations bridging the divides between Germany and its former wartime enemies and the paucity of civil society ties in East Asia.

“How many sister-city ties are there between Japan and South Korea? The answer: 88. How many between Germany and France? 2,200 at last count. How many joint cultural events took place between Japan and South Korea in 2005, the year of Japan-Korea Friendship? According to the official website, about 400. How many similar joint efforts take place between Germany and France in any given year? 7,000.”

So it was interesting to see the following redaction of a recent speech by former West Australia Premier Geoff Gallop on the strength and richness of the non-governmental ties between Australians and Japanese:

Cut & paste: Don't forget that Japan is our best friend in Asia
The Australian
pril 12, 2006


Each state of Australia has an active sister-state relationship with a Japanese prefecture. There are 99 sister-city links and 369 partnerships involving higher education institutions. About 300,000 young Australians are learning Japanese today.

Add to that the 44 Japan-Australia societies in Japan and 15 counterpart associations in Australia, and you can begin to comprehend the strength of the people-to-people links.

Deep beneath the surface of the high-level political relationships, a level of trust and understanding has been built up and new directions for the Australia-Japan partnership explored. This is an invaluable asset and it is not surprising, then, that there has been an important deepening and broadening of the trade and investment relationship...

So how many sister-city relationships are there between Japanese cities and Chinese cities? And if the Australians can forgive the Japanese, cannot pretty much anyone?

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