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I'm planning on sightseeing Melbourne with someone who is Japanese.

I was browsing Trip Advisor's top attractions for Melbourne, and site number five was the Shrine of Remembrance.

I'm not after advice about whether it's a good idea in general to take Japanese people to western war memorials. I probably wouldn't push the idea too much, but the person I'm sightseeing with might be progressive-minded enough to suggest it himself.

But are there any war memorials in particular I shouldn't take Japanese people to, either because the exhibits are offensive or the staff have negative attitudes towards Japanese people?

When talking about exhibits being offensive, I mean that the exhibits condones past racist attitudes towards Japanese people, or that they deliberately try to instil racist attitudes towards Japanese people, or that the exhibits refer to Japanese people in a derogatory way. I'm not opposed to exhibits discussing racial prejudice, or having primary sources within the museum that have racial prejudice within them, just so long as it's not being condoned by the museum.

I don't think it'll be a problem with the Shrine of Remembrance, because it's received two Japanese language reviews, both of which were positive. But I'd like to know in general.

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One of the most moving moments of my life happened quite by accident, decades ago alone in a small Italian village. I had a day with nothing to do so I wandered around, and bumped into a teeny little WWII memorial - a plaque with a list of names, maybe a small statue. As a Canadian, with British family, those young men were supposed to be "the enemy". It left me a little stunned and somehow changed. The same thing could happen to your visitor. (Or not, of course.) So wherever you take them, be prepared to step away and leave them some privacy. Or to step up and hug them, as appropriate. –  Kate Gregory Feb 9 '13 at 3:42
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@KateGregory +1, except for the very last sentence. Hugging and other such displays of emotion are frowned upon in the Japanese culture. –  Marton Feb 9 '13 at 11:43
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No answers to this question; because who would be in a position to give a good answer? Someone Japanese who has been? I find it unlikely that the war memorial employees would be racist. It's more a "horror of war" thing. –  WW. Feb 19 '13 at 0:21
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I voted to close. Some japanese might be offended, others might find it interesting history. It is an interesting topic for a discussion in the chat –  andra Feb 19 '13 at 21:28
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@MarkMayo You can't cater to all the people all the time, you can only assume that people use common sense when being offended. I'm offended by most Frank Gehry structures, won't mean I'm going to move because I have a few of one from my bedroom. –  Stephen P. Feb 20 '13 at 0:35
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closed as not constructive by Karlson, andra, Mark Mayo Feb 20 '13 at 0:26

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1 Answer

War memorials are mostly about remembering the fallen soldiers that gave their life for defense of the values of the time, not standing a standing tribute to how right of wrong those values were. I the United States we have Iraq and Afghanistan monuments to remember the soldiers that lost their lives defending our values, not as an defensible monument to political opinion of the time.

I think racial guilt makes people overly sensitive about these situations. Unless your friend fought in one of those wars, I highly doubt they'll be offended.

Most, if not all of my African American friends aren't overly sensitive about racial segregation that occurred in the 50s and realize that yesterday's values are not today.

Does anyone really hold their German friends responsible for WW2 racial opinions? Is Dr. Seuss forbidden from schools because he was a cartoonist that portrayed racial stereotypes for war posters? I say if you bring your friend with good intentions, no harm will be done.

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