19 February 2016
The Japanese government announced earlier this month that it will posthumously confer the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers, one of the country’s highest honors, on former Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew, who died last year on March 23. The announcement presents us with an opportunity to reflect on the late statesman’s views on Japan’s role in international politics over more than half a century, from the 1960s to the 2000s.
Like many other Southeast Asians of his generation, Lee’s view of Japan was shaped by his experiences during World War II. There is no need to recount Lee’s first encounter with the Japanese during the war. Those years are described in detail in the first volume of his memoirs, published in 1998. In his words, the Japanese occupation years were “the most important” of his life. It was in those years that he imbibed “vivid insights into the behavior of human beings and human societies, their motivations and impulses.”
… Ang Cheng Guan is associate professor and Head of Graduate Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University. He is the author of Lee Kuan Yew’s Strategic Thought (London: Routledge, 2013).
GPO / Online
Last updated on 22/02/2016