Political Apologies

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.

Displaying 451 - 475 of 823
Date of Apology Title Summary Source
23 April 2005 Leaders of Japan and China, both sides soften recent demands

At a meeting in Indonesia of the leaders of Japan and China, both sides softened recent demands, as Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi did not insist on a Chinese apology for anti-Japanese attacks in China, nor did Chinese leader Hu Jintao demand that Mr. Koizumi stop visiting the controversial Yasakuni shrine for World War II veterans.

Bonner, Raymond and Norimitsu Onishi. “China and Japan Leaders Pledge to Improve Relations.” New York Times. April 24, 2005.
30 April 2005 China - Taiwanese attempt to soften strained relations

 In an historic meeting in Beijing with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Taiwanese Nationalist Party leader Lien Chan attempts to soften strained relations that date to China’s civil war, saying, “Our two parties were enemies in the past.  Everyone knows this history.  But history is in the past.  We can’t change it.  But the future is in our hands and offers many opportunities.”

“Foes put past behind them in China.” www.cnn.com. April 30, 2005.
7 May 2005 Germany- “cult of guilt” imposed after the Nazi defeat.

Near the site of official commemorations of the end of World War II, German police break up a demonstration by hundreds of members of a far-right party protesting what they see as a “cult of guilt” imposed after the Nazi defeat.

“German far-right protests against “cult of Guilt” on anniversary of war’s end.” www.940news.com. May 8, 2005.
8 May 2005 Setif massacre of 1945

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier and Ambassador to Algeria Hubert Colin de Verdiere express regret for the “inexcusable tragedy” of the Sétif massacres of 1945, in which colonial forces killed thousands of people after anti-French riots.

Daase, Christopher, et al, eds. Apology and Reconciliation in International Relations. Routledge, 2016.
June 2005 USA-refusal to pass anti-lynching legislation

The U.S. Senate apologizes for its historic refusal to pass anti-lynching legislation.

Stolberg, Sheryl. “The Senate Apologizes, Mostly.” New York Times. 6/19/05.
1 June 2005 The Wachovia Corporation apologizes for its historical ties to slavery in the U.S

The Wachovia Corporation apologizes for its historical ties to slavery in the U.S.

“Wachovia apologizes for slavery ties.” www.cnn.com. June 2, 2005.
23 June 2005 Alberta Canada- inaction during the era of forced residential schools for First Nations children

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley apologizes for the province’s inaction during the era of forced residential schools for First Nations children. 

12 July 2005 European-American Leaders execution of 7,000 people in Srebrenica,

 At a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the execution of 7,000 people in Srebrenica, American and European leaders apologize for failing to protect the “safe area” and vow that the perpetrators will be brought to justice.

Rohde, David. “In Bosnia, World Leaders Apologize for Massacre.” New York Times. July 12, 2005.
22 July 2005 France for repressing rebellion in Madagascar

During a visit to Madagascar, French President Jacques Chirac expresses regret for the excesses of the repression of a nationalist rebellion in 1947

“Pour Chirac, la répression de 1947 était ‘inacceptable.’” RFI Savoirs. July 22, 2005.
31 July 2005 Virginia offers $5,500 a year to residents denied education in 1959

Virginia offers $5,500 a year to any state resident who was denied education in 1959 when the state shut its public schools rather than desegregate them.  

11 August 2005 Indian PM apologizes for anti-Sikh violence.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh apologizes for anti-Sikh violence in 1984 that followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi and led to nearly 3,000 deaths. He says, “I have no hesitation in apologising to the Sikh community. I apologise not only to the Sikh community, but to the whole Indian nation because what took place in 1984 is the negation of the concept of nationhood enshrined in our Constitution.” Sikh groups rejected the apology.

“Singh apologises to Sikhs for riots.” Dawn. August 12, 2005.
14 August 2005 Japan apologizes for Japan’s wartime invasions

On the 60th anniversary of the country’s surrender, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi apologizes for Japan’s wartime invasions.

“Japanese leader apologizes for wartime colonization, invasions of Asia.” www940news.com. August 14, 2005; “Japan’s Apologies for World War II.” New York Times. August 14, 2015.
23 August 2005 Pat Robertson apologizes for suggesting that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez be assassinated

 Pat Robertson apologizes for suggesting that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez be assassinated.

“Robertson apologizes.” www.cnn.com. August 24, 2005.
14 September 2005 USA responsibility for the poor federal response to Hurricane Katrina

 U.S. President George W. Bush accepts responsibility for the poor federal response to Hurricane Katrina.

“Bush: I take responsibility’ for federal failures after Katrina.” www.cnn.com. September 14, 2005.
21 September 2005 Catholic Church- decades of sex abuse

In response to a grand jury report on pedophile Catholic priests, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia expresses “deep regrets and sincere apologies” to the victims of decades of sex abuse.

Caparella, Kitty. “Archdiocese Blasts Report.” www.philly.com. September 22, 2005.
29 September 2005 Algeria referendum amnesty for combatants in its civil war.

 Algeria passes a referendum offering partial amnesty for combatants in its civil war.  Militants reject the amnesty offer on October 1.

“Algerian Rebels Said to Reject Amnesty.” New York Times. October 2, 2005.
29 September 2005 Dutch rail apology

The Dutch national railroad company apologizes for having transported 107,000 Dutch Jews to Nazi camps in World War II.

Reuters. “Dutch Railway Firm Apologizes for Deporting Jews during World War II.” Haaretz. September 29, 2005.
7 December 2005 Japan-Pearl Harbor

On the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese foreign minister Taro Aso expresses “deep remorse” for Japan’s actions in World War II.

“Primary Addresses, Dec. 4-10.” New York Times. December 11, 2005. WK2.
30 December 2005 Austria compensation to thousands of Holocaust survivors

Austria begins to pay compensation to thousands of Holocaust survivors.

“First Austrian pay set for Holocaust survivors.” Philadelphia Inquirer. December 30, 2005.
4 January 2006 France- national day for remembrance for slavery

French President Jacques Chirac announces that France will introduce a national day for remembrance for slavery.  He claimed, “France was exemplary in being the first country in the world – and today still the only one – to recognize slavery as a crime against humanity.”

http://www.940news.com. January 4, 2006.
14 January 2006 Israel- Pat Robertson’s - Gaza strip

  Israeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon says that Israel accepts Pat Robertson’s apology for suggesting that Ariel Sharon was struck down by God for returning the Gaza strip.

“Israel accepts apology for Sharon comments.” Montreal Gazette. January 14, 2006. pA20.
1 February 2006 A Muslim group -Danish newspaper caricatures of the prophet Muhammad accepts apology

 A Muslim group that had criticized a Danish newspaper for printing caricatures of the prophet Muhammad accepts the paper’s apology.

“Muslim group accepts newspaper’s apology.” Montreal Gazette. February 1, 2006.
28 February 2006 USA- the lynching of an Indian boy named Louis Sam in 1884 by an American mob that crossed into Canada

The Washington state legislature acknowledges the injustice of the lynching of an Indian boy named Louis Sam in 1884 by an American mob that crossed into Canada.

“Lynching apology.” Montreal Gazette. February 28, 2006. pA12.
18 March 2006 Anglican leaders in Kenya-HIV

Anglican leaders in Kenya apologize for having criticized people with HIV and AIDS as sinners

“Clergy apologize for attitude on AIDS.” Montreal Gazette. March 18, 2006.
3 April 2006 Thailand reconciliation commission

 Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra says he will create a reconciliation commission to resolve national political divisions.

“Pressured Thai prime minister calls for reconciliation commission.” Montreal Gazette. April 4, 2006.