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Letters to the Editor Dec. 29: Toward reconciliation. Plus other letters to the editor

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

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Reconciliation

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With U.S. President Barack Obama visiting Hiroshima earlier this year, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attending the Pearl Harbor memorial, these leaders are demonstrating how nations can set aside differences and work toward reconciliation (Japan's Abe Offers 'Everlasting Condolences' At Pearl Harbor – Dec. 28).

There is no denying that each country made decisions in the past that resulted in countless deaths, but it is important to acknowledge and learn from the darkest parts of our history to truly move forward.

In the midst of political instability and turmoil in the Middle East and various parts of the world, reconciliation is needed now more then ever. It is refreshing to know that two of the world's most powerful nations are looking to peacefully move past their differences.

Khizar Karim, Alliston, Ont.

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We see the Prime Minister of Japan and the President of the United States laying wreaths to commemorate 75 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor. Shinzo Abe offered his "everlasting condolences" for those who lost their lives, but he stopped short of apologizing for this horrendous act upon the United States.

Franklin D. Roosevelt summed it up best when he described Dec. 7, 1941, as "a date which will live in infamy." I am sure there are many who would have expected more from the Japanese Prime Minister than just condolences.

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Gregory Boudreau, Halifax

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Piano exterminator

I read the tribute to the Nordheimer piano with misted eyes (Requiem For An Old Friend – Facts & Arguments, Dec. 28). I share the author's love for his aged upright. Mine was our first possession as a young couple setting up our household, purchased for $200 decades ago. Cherished by me and a growing family, it will certainly meet the "piano exterminator" one day. It has already been declared terminal; the piano tuner took one look, packed up tools without touching a string and declared it beyond help.

Donnie Friedman, Toronto

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Subsidies? Vote no

Re Most Opposition Parties Favour A Return To Per-Vote Subsidy (Dec. 27): Of course minority parties lacking people willing to fund their cause would wish for access to taxpayers' money. It's effortless. The ability of political parties to raise their own funds is an important measure of their worthiness and true support.

Per-vote subsidies are a misuse of taxpayers' money. Additionally, they wrongly enhance the import of minority views.

Claude Harari, Toronto

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Not as card holders

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At big airports in Canada, or at least the ones I've recently been at, you can avoid the line at security by showing your American Express card, not just any Amex card mind you – the platinum one with the $699 annual fee.

Elizabeth Renzetti brings to our attention Michael Sandel's book, What Money Can't Buy, where he writes about monetized, private space where common interests and goals are diminished (As 2016 Crashed In Flames, Libraries Were The Last Good Place – Dec. 24).

In the society I cherish, and thought we lived in, we pass through basic services not as credit card holders, but as citizens. Significantly, the concept of a private "credit card" line for access to airport security, if generalized in society, would be a challenge to the animating values of public health care.

David Dyment, Ottawa

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Indigenous identity

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Re Boyden's Ancestry Questioned (Dec. 26): To the extent that the reception of Canadian novelist Joseph Boyden's work is in no small part filtered through readers' assumptions and expectations that his indigenous heritage and identity invests him with special insights into his subject matter, any misstatements on his part of the true nature of his background are not to be taken lightly.

If recent allegations concerning his antecedents are correct, Mr. Boyden's claims to indigeneity make light of the lived experiences of those generations of real indigenous who were thrashed and starved in residential schools, imprisoned for the practice of traditional cultural expressions, including spirituality and use of language, and who continue by virtually all measures to live at the disadvantaged end of the Canadian socioeconomic spectrum.

John Moses, Delaware and Upper Mohawk bands, Six Nations of the Grand River Territory; Ottawa

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Giller Prize-winner Joseph Boyden is widely recognized as a talented author and perhaps that's all that matters in this discussion. However, if he were to be truly forthcoming, he would factually delineate his aboriginal heritage. If it turns out the allegations about his ancestry are correct, it will rightly test our conviction in artistic freedom. His apparent vacillation between "identity in feeling" and "identity in fact" is a phenomenon all too common today – but has always been a bit disingenuous.

Jeff Stephan, Toronto

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'Bottle ladies'

Marcus Gee's article on Toronto's "bottle ladies" (The Secret Lives Of Bottle Ladies – Dec. 24) was a refreshing look into the invisible poverty of parts of the highly diverse Chinese community of Toronto. This community generally keeps its head down and is not associated with negative social behaviours, so has not attracted the attention or sympathy of social activists. When I was a child, and before Toronto's initial Blue Box recycling program, I, too, collected empty beer bottles and cans (found in alley ways and park garbage bins) to return for a refund at the Beer Store. It was a means to make a little honest money to counter growing up in poverty.

Although Mr. Gee notes that the women collecting bottles in his story are not doing it primarily because of money, I can assure you there are many who do it to supplement a meagre income and lifestyle. Poverty and its hardships for some members of this community are acute because they lack (among other things) the social capital and knowledge of the charitable services etc. available to them.

If only my parents had known about food banks – and if pride would not have stopped them from taking advantage of them – I would have had fewer nights going to bed hungry.

Kai L. Chan, distinguished fellow, INSEAD Abu Dhabi

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What it wasn't

Re The New Age Of Nostalgia (online, Dec. 24): Cathal Kelly's contention that we long for things that never were and seek to retreat into a past that never was only goes to support an old adage. Nostalgia: It ain't what it used be.

Dave Morgan, Ottawa

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Cathal Kelly says of Donald Trump that "he's never learned to use a computer." Ah yes, all those hand-written tweets.

C.I. Blackledge, Cambridge, Ont.

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