ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Healing Touch

In terms of international law and relations, how is it possible to ensure “closure” of past wrongs as sovereign states and their heads seek to tender “apology” for simmering past incidents?

We live in an interesting period of unprecedented progress and prosperity marred by conflicts within and among states, with lingering shadow of past wrongs. It shows that human beings are not infallible and need to come to terms with their past, howsoever unpleasant it may be. Hence, one can notice a marked shift in attitudes of sovereign states to acknowledge historical wrongs/insults/injustices. It seems that a multiplicity of factors, including political compulsions, drives them to do something that was hitherto unpalatable.

In recent months, there have been a series of incidents wherein sovereign states and their heads have sought to tender “apology” for simmering past incidents or wrongs that left an indelible imprint on the minds of either their own people or peoples of other countries. The Japanese government expressed “most sincere apologies and remorse” on 28 December 2015 to the Republic of Korea for abuse of “comfort women” in World War II. The Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau did so on 18 May 2016 in the House of Commons for the 1914 Komagata Maru incident wherein 376 Indian immigrants on a chartered Japanese steamship were denied entry because of the then-racist and exclusionary immigration policy.

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