"Asia needs to place more emphasis on history," he insisted.

I understand the sentiments held by Mr Pang and the South Korean I met.

Indeed, many Singaporeans, especially those who lived through the war, may never be able to truly put the past behind.

But at the same time, there are good reasons why Singaporeans think about the war differently from how the Chinese and Koreans do.

The issue's salience has faded with each generation, even as the Chinese and the Koreans maintain its importance - or even amplify it - among their young.

So why is Singapore less stuck in the past, as it were?

I can think of at least four reasons. These, I argue, have little to do with what the Government wills, in a unilateral sense. They exist independently in society, with or without official sanction.

First, the Japanese Occupation was shorter in Singapore - under four years. China fought Japan for eight years, with Beijing and Shanghai occupied for much of that time. Korea was occupied for longer. Annexed in 1910, it was freed by the Allied forces in 1945.

There are some who would add here that Singapore's wartime experience was also less brutal.

I disagree.

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