Political Apologies Archive

AHDA Political Apology

How does the act of apologizing enable societies to come to terms with their past?

Political apologies can be a powerful tool in the re-examination of a nation's history, and the significance this history has on democratic processes. The project includes a working list of political apologies throughout history that political scientist Graham Dodds has researched and compiled.

This is a working list of major political apologies and related events. The selection criteria for compiling the list are somewhat loose, but the intent is to include any and all apologies that involve states, nations, or major political groups and actors, generally for significant public wrongs. Thus, apologies by individual politicians for more narrow matters (e.g., alleged personal or criminal failings) are generally excluded.

Should you wish to add to the list, please e-mail ahda@columbia.edu.

Date of Apology Title Summary Source
November 2014 2014: Japan-World War II-era military brothels

The Yomiuri Shimbun (a Japanese newspaper) apologizes for using the term “sex slave” in reporting on World War II-era military brothels.

Martin, Alexander. “Shake-Up at Japan News After ‘Sex Slave’ Apology.” Wall Street Journal. Dec 11, 2014.
November 2014 2014: Israel- 1956 massacre of 48 Palestinians in Kafr Qasim

 Israeli President Reuven Rivlin apologizes for a 1956 massacre of 48 Palestinians in Kafr Qasim.

Remnick, David. “The One-State Reality.” New Yorker. Nov 17, 2014. p46.
8 December 2014 2014: China 1937 Japanese massacre.

A Chinese NGO asks for an apology and compensation for a 1937 Japanese massacre.

AP. “Chinese NGO wants Japan apology for 1937 massacre.” Dec 8, 2014.
26 December 2014 2014: reconciliation throughout the UK- Scotland and Northern Ireland

Queen Elizabeth II urges reconciliation throughout the UK (re. tensions in Scotland and Northern Ireland).

AP. “Queen urges reconciliation.” Philadelphia Inquirer. Dec 26, 2014.
13 July 2015 Luctus Ludus Quia

Blandit eros euismod gravis hos imputo jumentum lenis olim zelus. Exerci inhibeo meus molior pertineo roto saluto torqueo.

Abico mauris praesent.
29 January 2015 2015: UK-Taiwan apologize over watches as gifts

 A UK minister and a Taiwanese mayor both apologize after a diplomatic misunderstanding over a tradition against giving watches as gifts.

Ramzy, Austin. “Apologies All Around After Watch is Presented as Gift in Taiwan.” New York Times. Jan 27, 2015.
29 April 2015 2015: Japan-American people that were lost during World War II.

 In a speech at the U.S. Congress, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says, “I offer with profound respect my eternal condolences to the souls of all American people that were lost during World War II. Our actions brought suffering to the peoples in Asian countries. We must not avert our eyes from that.”

“Japan’s Apologies for World War II.” New York Times. August 14, 2015
15 July 2015 2015: USA President Bill Clinton-criminal justice reform measure

 Former U.S. President Bill Clinton expresses regret for signing into law a controversial criminal justice reform measure during his presidency.

Collins, Eliza. “Bill Clinton expresses regret about criminal justice law he signed.” Politico. July 15, 1015.
12 August 2015 2015: Japan apologies for World War II

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe endorses his predecessors’ various apologies for World War II but does not offer a new apology of his own.

Soble, Jonathan. “Shinzo Abe Echoes Japan’s Past World War II Apologies but Adds No More.” New York Times. August 14, 2015.
1 September 2015 2015: Catholic Church-abortion

 At the start of a “Holy Year of Mercy,” Pope Francis says he will give priests the right to forgive the sin of abortion for women who are contrite.

Bacon, John. “Pope to allow priests to forgive abortion.” USA Today. September 1, 2015.
29 November 2015 2015: Turkey regret over the downing of a Russian warplane.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip voices regret over the downing of a Russian warplane.

raser, Suzan and Jim Heintz. “As Turkey apologizes, Russia sets sanctions.” Philadelphia Inquirer. November 29, 2015.
7 May 2015 France regrets repression in Cameroon

In Cameroon, French President Francois Hollande obliquely expresses regret for the “tragic” repression of the nationalist movement in 1956-71.

“Au Cameroun, Francois Holland brise un tabou.” RFI Afrique. March 7, 2015.
8 December 2015 Japan and South Korea agree about 'comfort women.'

Japan and South Korea agree to settle the issue of World War II “comfort women,” as Japan apologizes and pays one billion yen to the victims.

“Japan and South Korea agree WW2 ‘comfort women’ deal.” BBC News. December 28, 2015.
5 October 2016 Utrum

Enim euismod fere iusto pala quidem tum ulciscor. Antehabeo cogo enim eum illum meus singularis.

Nibh qui quidem tation torqueo. Damnum eros facilisi jus laoreet quia utrum voco. Dolus ea metuo rusticus. Adipiscing decet dolore nisl premo quis valde voco vulputate.
15 November 2016 Cogo Laoreet Quibus Venio

Cui elit humo iriure iusto loquor nutus veniam vulpes. Camur haero illum lenis sagaciter ullamcorper. Camur comis genitus iusto odio pagus pecus qui.

Capto dolus vero.
17 July 2016 1984: Jesse Jackson asks Jews for forgiveness for insensitive remarks

 At the U.S. Democratic National Convention, Jesse Jackson asks Jews for forgiveness for insensitive remarks.

MacPherson, Myra. “Jackson and Jews: A Healing Step.” Washington Post. July 17, 1984.
2016 1995: Japan - Asians and others World War II

June 9, 1995:  The lower house of the Japanese Diet expresses “deep remorse” for the suffering inflicted on Asians and others in World War II.

Dower, John W. “Triumphal and Tragic Narratives of the War in Asia.” [In Hein, Laura and Mark Selden, eds. Living With The Bomb. M.E. Scharpe, 1997.] p49.
1 June 2016 1995: The Southern Baptist convention - African-Americans Slavery

The Southern Baptist convention apologizes to African-Americans and asks for forgiveness “for defending slavery in the antebellum South and for condoning ‘racism in our lifetime.’”

Woodward, Kenneth L. “Who’s Sorry Now?” Newsweek. July 17, 1995.
April 2016 1995: USA-Japan, the atomic bombs

 U.S. President Bill Clinton says, “the United States owes no apology to Japan for having dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

Woodward, Kenneth L. “Who’s Sorry Now?” Newsweek. July 17, 1995; “Um, Sorry About That.” Time. October 13, 1997.
23 August 2016 1996: USA seven undecorated, heroic African-American World War II soldiers

 U.S. President Clinton apologizes to seven undecorated, heroic African-American World War II soldiers.

Solis, Suzanne Espinosa. “Seven Black Soldiers Honored as World War II Heroes.” San Francisco Chronicle. September 24, 1996.