The Uneasy Sleep of Japan's Dead
By George F. Will Sunday, August 20, 2006; Page B07
Leftist ideology causes South Korea's regime to cultivate victimhood and resentment of a Japan imagined to have expansionism in its national DNA.
The choice by China's regime is more interesting. Marxism is bankrupt and causes cognitive dissonance as China pursues economic growth by markedly un-Marxist means.
So China's regime, needing a new source of legitimacy, seeks it in memories of resistance to Japanese imperialism.
'Nanking' to Be Filmed in China, Recreating the Japanese Attack in 1937
Wednesday May 31, 10:00 am ET
- William Macdonald of HBO's 'Rome' writing screenplay.
- The late American educator Minnie Vautrin, who saved thousands, will be featured.
- Release date to be December 2007 in time for 70th anniversary of the massacre.
Producer Gerald Green announced today that an agreement has been reached with the government of the People's Republic of China
to proceed with a film based on the infamous siege by Japanese forces of Nanking, then China's capital, during late 1937 and early 1938.
The film will be produced by Green's company,
Viridian Entertainment and by the Jiangsu Provincial Culture Industry Group, headed by its chairman, Dr. Li Xiangmin.
Production is set to begin in late 2006 in China for release on the 70th anniversary of the commencement of the attack,
which began on December 19, 1937.
Said Green: "This film will be epic in scope but also an intimate portrait of two women -- one,
a mother of a traditional Chinese family and the other, a real historical figure, the heroic American educator Minnie Vautrin.
Between them, 300,000 Chinese are saved from certain murder and rape."
Writing the screenplay is William Macdonald, co-creator and senior executive producer of HBO's epic series "Rome."
Added Green: "Certain Asian scholars pursuing their own nationalist agendas have dared to deny the tragedies that occurred in Nanking seventy years ago
despite the overwhelming oral, filmed, and recorded history to the contrary.
We intend to right that wrong, using the devastating personal and family tragedies that resulted as the true measure of what was done here."
Japan-Bashing: Opium of the Chinese Masses
How utterly laughable from a government which wouldn't even allow the death of one of its former top officials to be covered by the media, for fear of stirring up pro-democracy sentiments. China is in absolutely no position to be lecturing the Japanese on taking "a responsible attitude toward history", not in terms of honoring disreputable figures - Mao was worse than Tojo by far, yet is still revered as a "great leader" who made a few "mistakes" - nor in terms of teaching the true facts of history: just try looking for an honest account of the many failings of the Communist Party in Chinese textbooks, whether it be The Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, the annexation of Tibet or the crushing of the Tiananmen student revolt we're talking about.
I say it's well past time the Chinese and the Koreans got over their ritualistic Japan-bashing; yes, Japan did terrible things to both countries during its imperialist period, but Japan was not the only or even the most recent imperialist power to do such things, and most other victims have managed to get over their sufferings in the meantime. It isn't even true that Japan has failed to apologize for its past crimes either, so that bullshit excuse for whipping out the "Evil Japan" card won't wash. It seems to me at least that the only reason people in Korea and China are so free to indulge in Japan-bashing is that they're well aware that post-war Japan has indeed changed very much for the better, and most Japanese are so pacifistic that their government routinely plays down or ignores barbs from abroad a more assertive country's leaders would rebut forcefully. If Japan were as much of a bully as its economic might gives it the potential to be, the Chinese and Korean super-patriots would be a lot less vocal than they currrently are.
The China mess
By Lawrence Kudlow
There's a lot of bad political and economic blood developing between China and Japan, and China and the United States. None of it will lead to any good.
Anti-Japanese demonstrations have broken out in Shanghai and Hong Kong, with Chinese authorities looking on with winks and nods. The Chinese want Japan to apologize for aggression in the 1930s and 1940s, although Japan has done so about 40 times in recent years. The Chinese also claim not to like Japan's newly revised history textbooks on the subject. Then there's the ongoing squabble about oil and gas reserves on some offshore islands and the matter of permanent Japanese membership on the U.N. Security Council.
But the problems run much deeper. China doesn't much like Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi pulling his country even closer to the U.S. in the world terror war. This renewed U.S.-Japan alliance also implies protection of a free and democratic Taiwan against Beijing's new "anti-secession" law.
Japan firmly supports U.S. efforts to stop North Korea's military and nuclear buildup. China dominates North Korea, so it could really put the pressure on Kim Jong-il to renegotiate a nuclear agreement. But China only says it will help with the North Korea problem and never seems to do very much.
China shows its two faces all the time. It praised the late Pope John Paul II upon his passing and then promptly jailed a Catholic bishop and a priest. It has been liberalizing its economy and reforming local government but remains a dictatorship with no free national elections. Though it has taken steps to join the community of nations, it now appears to be launching a new program of militant nationalism, with a sizable military buildup. Japan may be the proximate target, but one ultimately suspects all this is aimed at the United States.
China Tries to Get Taiwan to Hate Japan
In October, Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, blamed Japanese rightwing forces for inciting current efforts to separate self-ruled, democratic Taiwan from China.
Jia claimed that people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should "feel proud" of the "exalted victory" that secured Taiwan's liberation from Japanese colonial rule.
On Oct. 25, thousands of people attended a China National Museum exhibit marking the 60th anniversary of Taiwan's return to China after 50 years of Japanese rule. Some museum visitors confessed they did not know China blames Japan for Taiwan's current self-rule and hostilities toward Beijing.
The Making of Modern Asia
Cultural confidence is a necessary but not sufficient condition for development. Centuries of European colonial rule had progressively reduced Asian self-confidence. Future generations of Indian citizens will be wondering how 300 million Indians Including my own ancestors allowed themselves to be passively ruled by fewer than 100,000 Britons. Those as yet unborn will not understand how deeply the myth of European cultural superiority had been embedded into the Indian psyche. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Indian Prime Minister, once said the defeat of Russia in 1905 by Japan first triggered the idea of independence for India in his mind. That was a remarkable admission; it implied that intelligent Indians could not conceive of governing themselves before Japan, an Asian power, defeated a European one.
Japan's record in World War II was disastrous. But if Japan had not succeeded early in the 20th century, Asia's development would have come much later. Japan inspired the rise of Asia. Even South Korea, which suffered from brutal Japanese colonial rule, could not have taken off so fast without having Japan as a role model. Asia needs to send Japan a big thank-you note. The tragedy, of course, is that such words of gratitude will not be delivered while Japan remains ambivalent about its own identity, torn between Asia and the West.
Even the Chinese should thank Japan. Tokyo's continuous denials of its army's atrocities in World War II will always complicate relations with Beijing. But China would not be where it is today if Deng had not made that fateful decision to move from communist central planning to a free-market system. Deng took this incredibly bold leap because he had seen how well the Overseas Chinese in Taiwan, Hong Kong and even Singapore had done. Those three tigers預nd the fourth, South Korea謡ere inspired by Japan. The stone that Japan threw into Asia-Pacific waters created ripples that eventually benefited China, too.
Chinese Government Orchestrates Anti-Japanese Internet Campaign
Recently the United States indicated it supported permanent Security Council membership for Japan; in response to this, it looks as though the Chinese government has created an internet campaign to drum up popular Chinese opposition to adding Japan to the Security Council:
In just weeks, organizers claim to have collected more than 24 million names on an Internet petition demanding that Japan be denied a permanent U.N. Security Council seat, a status that only Beijing and four other governments now hold. The petition says Tokyo has failed to apologize for wartime aggression against China.
Given that the internet is heavily censored in China and that China's government controls all political debate, it must be assumed that this effort has the full backing of the Chinese government even if the original idea didn't start in a Chinese government office. While one might understand China's continued anger over Japanese actions in World War Two, it was all a very long time ago; and it strikes a raw nerve when the Chinese do something like this:
"How can a nation that has never apologized for its barbaric behavior gain the trust of the international community to be a Security Council member?" said Tong Zeng, a leader among China's passionate and well-organized anti-Japan activists.
This would have more force behind it if the Chinese goverment would apologise for its barbaric behaviour against its own citizens as recently as the 1989 massacre in Tienamen Square. Japan did a great deal of brutality in World War Two, but all of that is 60 years in the past, not 16 as in the case of China.
nicholaskristof - 12:01 PM ET July 21, 2005 (#858 of 858)
My Japan-based friend Mark Schreiber, a master of Japanese, Mandarin and Taiwanese,
sent in this tidbit of news. It underscores the way China is turning its antipathy toward Japan into virulent racism:
BEIJING ・A hospital in southern China has hung a sign outside its entrance forbidding Japanese people from entering unless
they apologize for the Japanese army's World War II-era use of
"comfort women," two of whom were treated there, a local paper reported Thursday.
A tale of two massacres
As the rain of stones on Japan increases, Jonathan Watts finds China sheltering in a glass house
Friday June 24, 2005
At a recent lecture at a Beijing university, students politely lambasted this correspondent - and by association all other foreign journalists - for painting too negative a picture of China.
"Why," asked one questioner, "do you keep writing about the Tiananmen Square incident and the Cultural Revolution? The past is the past. China has changed. It is time to move on."
He had a point. The world's most populous nation has indeed been transformed in many ways since the dark days of Mao Zedong and the massacre of civilians by the People's Liberation Army in1989. But the same could also be said of Japan since the second world war, yet many of the students had a very different view about the value of history when it came to the atrocities committed by their neighbour more than half a century ago.
The tale of the two massacres is revealing. In Japan, the extent of the killings in Nanjing almost 70 years ago has been the subject of countless documentaries, symposiums and books. In China, discussion of the killings in Tiananmen 16 years ago is entirely taboo. A search on the English language website of Xinhua - the Chinese state news agency - over the past month showed 30 articles relating to the Nanjing "massacre" and only one that referred to Tiananmen, which was described as an "incident".
Ross Terrill: China's hardly in a position to lecture Japan
The moment's raison d'etat is supreme. Turning on rhetoric, emotion, and government-sanctioned demonstrations is an easy trick. Since political safety valves are lacking in Chinese society, no one knows the relative weight in the anti-Japan demonstrators' motivations among (a) dislike of Japan, (b) doing what supervisors prompt and (c) letting off steam by shouting slogans in the street (normally forbidden in China) that might end up annoying a Chinese government seen as condescending and corrupt.
On textbooks, a projection identification occurs. Dynastic regimes in East Asia all viewed history as the province of state orthodoxy. China and Vietnam, putting Leninist dress on the skeleton of traditional autocracy, still do. Japan and Taiwan, as democracies, do not.
No book of any kind attacking the Communist Party's monopoly of power in China has been published in China in the 56 years of the PRC. Some of the most trenchant books anywhere in the world on Japanese war atrocities have been written, published, and widely read in Japan. Beijing seems to think that because its textbooks jump to government policy, Japan's do too. But they do not. In Japan, unlike in China, there are government-sponsored textbooks as well as independent ones.
The blunt truth is that reasonable Chinese, Japanese, and other scholarly estimates vary widely for Chinese killed by Japan in the Nanjing Massacre of 1937 and in World War II. They also do for Chinese killed by their own Communist government in the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution (no apologies, yet, for these mishaps; what's a million here, 10million there, among comrades?). No one textbook can embody final truth.
The main text for middle-school history in China devotes nine chapters to Japan's aggression against China in the 19th and 20th centuries, but does not mention China's invasion of Japan under the Yuan Dynasty. (Vietnam comes off even worse than Japan. Nothing is said of the Han Dynasty's conquest of Vietnam or of China's 1000-year colonisation of thecountry.)
Ultimately, however, calm management from all quarters will only go so far in steadying Japan-China relations. Japan is a democracy and China is a dictatorship, and while that continues, the root problem is China's political system. Canberra, Washington, and other democratic capitals should tell Beijing that an open society is necessary for history to be viewed steadily and for international business exchanges to succeed.
Mothers call for Tiananmen apology
May 28, 2005
MORE than 100 relatives of people killed in the Tiananmen massacre have called on the government to apologise as the 16th anniversary of the tragedy approaches.
In an open letter by 125 relatives to President Hu Jintao, the Tiananmen Mothers group said the Government's recent accusations against Japan
for failing to acknowledge its World War II atrocities were meaningless because it has not apologised for its own transgressions.
"You and your predecessors have wiped the memory of the June 4 massacre from the books and have covered up this despicable event from history," the letter said.
"In this you have been very successful. You have been more thorough than those Japanese right-wing plotters who have tried to erase the history of the Nanjing massacre."
Hundreds, if not thousands, of unarmed protesters and citizens were shot dead in the streets of Beijing when the People's Liberation Army
moved in to quell the six week-long democracy protests in 1989.
Japan foresees an anti-China backlash
By James Brooke The New York Times
WEDNESDAY, MAY 25, 2005
TOKYO Japanese officials sharply criticized China on Tuesday for canceling a meeting with the prime minister of Japan scheduled for Monday and predicted that the incident would sharpen growing anti-Chinese sentiment here.
In a land where courtesy is prized, Japanese ministers made little effort to mask their anger at the sudden departure Monday of Wu Yi, the deputy vice premier of China, who had come to Japan to ease relations strained by disputes over textbooks, territorial rights and anti-Japanese protests in China.
A Clampdown in China
By Nicholas D. Kristof
New York Times, May 17, 2005
The most important person in the world right now may be Hu Jintao,
and we're beginning to get a better sense of what kind of a leader he is: disappointing
Mr. Hu appears to be an intuitive authoritarian who believes in augmenting the tools of repression,
not easing them. Most distressing, Mr. Hu has tugged China backward politically. He has presided
over a steady crackdown on dissent, the news media, religion, Internet commentary and think tanks.
China now imprisons far more journalists than any other country.
At The New York Times, we've seen this crackdown firsthand. Zhao Yan, a colleague who works
for the Times bureau in Beijing, was seized last September and tossed into prison. Why?
We don't know for sure, because Mr. Zhao has never been tried and neither his lawyer
nor his family members have even been allowed to see him.
"CCP'S ECCENTRIC DIPLOMACY"
China envoy cancels Koizumi talks
Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Yi cut short a visit to Japan and cancelled talks with
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi which had been aimed at easing troubled ties.
Beijing cited unspecified "domestic duties" for the cancellation, but a top
official of Japan's ruling party said the move could be seen as "rude".
Busty child reported to ease anti-Japan tension in China
(GEOFF BOTTING - The Japan Times) May 22, 2005
Translated from Shukan Bunshun (May 19)
The wave of anti-Japanese sentiment in China continues, more than a month since
the first round of demonstrations against the Japanese government’s approval of a
controversial school textbook flared throughout the country. Diplomats and
politicians on both sides have been trying to diffuse tensions in a flurry of
meetings and shuttle diplomacy, but so far these methods have had only limited
Saaya Irie, an 11-year-old Japanese girl, may not be that miracle, but she has
clearly played a part in pacifying a certain segment of China’s population,
according to Shukan Bunshun.
If anything about Saaya is miraculous, it’s her body ― she wears an F-cup bra, though she has yet to reach her teens. So when a photo of her in a bikini was posted on a Chinese Internet forum called “100,” she immediately caused a sensation.
The pic was accompanied by message ― rendered in mock Marxist rhetoric ― reading: “An 11-year-old Japanese girl with large breasts has a proclamation for all Chinese people! Dear elder brothers, a beautiful young Japanese girl is beseeching you.
“Please stop these anti-Japanese hijinks. If you don’t, I won’t like you anymore.”
At the end of the message, she states that her breasts would “rise up” if the people “unite for the sake of China’s democracy.”
According to an anonymous source described as an Internet expert, the message and photo were posted by someone involved in www.2ch.net, a Japanese online forum.
“They copied photos onto an anti-Japanese site to see what kind of reaction they’d get,” the source says. “They put up the usual photos of porn and animals, but when someone posted a photo of Saaya, many Chinese went for it hook, line and sinker.”
Shortly after the photo and message were posted, the number of anti-Japanese postings rapidly declined, largely replaced by messages praising the girl’s loveliness.
“This is one Japanese import I won’t be boycotting,” gushed one admirer. Another said, “She doesn’t look 11. She’s gotta be 18.”
After debuting in Japan in February, Saaya immediately grabbed attention for being so young yet having so ample a bust. Her striking facial features also helped.
In China, the Japanese starlet is fast becoming an Internet superstar. The Chinese version of the Yahoo search engine yields 48,000 hits for the keyword “Saaya,” says Shukan Bunshun. “When I meet Chinese people through (online) chat, I get at least one request a day to send pics of Saaya,” says Takashi Nakamiya, a freelance writer in Japan.
Japan through the looking glass
May 20, 2005
By Alexander Bukh
TOKYO - The recent wave of anti-Japanese protests in China and Korea has drawn the attention of the English-language media, with its extensive coverage of what is presumed to be Japan's failure to deal with its past and the effect this has had on relations with its neighbors.
Speaking from the perspective of somebody who is based in Japan, most of the coverage seems to be focused on exploring some imaginary "Japan" that has very little in common with the Japan that I live in and interact with on a daily basis. For me, the numerous articles that discuss Japan's "whitewashing" of history and its relations with its Asian neighbors, while having some perceptive conclusions, tend to reflect the strong anti-Japanese bias that dominates Western perceptions of Japan and goes back to at least the Japanese defeat of Russia in the 1904-1905 war.
The history textbook in question was approved for the first time in 2002, but only two schools in all of Japan
decided to adopt it. Furthermore, a brief comparison between the history textbooks used in the 1980s, when the issue of Japan censoring its history first emerged, and in 2002, would show that contemporary textbooks provide a much more in-depth description of the suppression of the Korean and Chinese independence movements and the oppressive policies of the colonial government, the killings of Korean and Chinese residents by armed mobs in the aftermath of the Kanto earthquake in 1923, the atrocities of the Japanese army in Nanking and the deeds of the notorious 731 biological warfare unit.
The "German analogy" which is often invoked in the debate is also a simplistic attempt to project the horrors of European history on a totally different region. No doubt that Japan's imperial and colonial policies, just like their European equivalents, were brutal, discriminating and left a deep scar in the hearts of the people of Korea, China and other Asian nations. However, Japan never had the well-designed and premeditated policy of genocide that is the main characteristic of the European trauma. Also, while Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's persistent visits to the Yasukuni Shrine cannot be described either as a sensitive or a smart political move, it is also important to know that the shrine is not Japan's equivalent of Obersalzberg, which has become an area of Neo-Nazi pilgrimage.
It is not dedicated to war criminals, but a memorial of all Japanese soldiers who have fallen in the domestic and international wars of Japan, and was built in the 1860s to commemorate the victims of civil war.
The projection of the "self" on Japan, in Korea and China, can be seen as one of the reasons for the anger. It is also important to remember that during the reign of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping in China, the view of history presented to the Chinese citizens was that, while Japanese military and government has been responsible for the crimes, the Japanese people were innocent.
However, since the 1990s, the historical narrative has been revised in order to unite an increasingly fragmented Chinese society through a nationalism that is strengthened by the existence of a common enemy.
It is also important to remember the unresolved territorial disputes between Japan and China, which are unrelated to the crimes of the Japanese empire, but still serve as an important factor in the frictions.
China, Japan Stuck on Compensation Issue
BEIJING - Japan and China failed to agree on compensation for damages caused by violent anti-Japan riots across China last month, but both sides will meet again, the chinese foreign ministry and news reports said Sunday.
Visiting Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi and Chinese counterpart Dai Bingguo agreed to meet again in Tokyo as early as June, Japan's Kyodo News agency said.
"We deepened (our) mutual understanding," Kyodo quoted Yachi as telling reporters late Saturday after wrapping up talks that lasted 15 hours over two days. "But there is no final settlement." The Japanese Foreign Ministry did not immediately comment Sunday.
China's Foreign Ministry said the talks concluded with both sides agreeing to maintain dialogue
They "deeply exchanged views on bilateral relations and regional and international issues of concern," the ministry said in a brief statement posted on its Web site.
"Both sides think this dialogue is positive and valuable and agree to continue the process."
Yachi also met with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing during his trip.
Beijing tragedy: Daughter of slain Filipino also killed
Posted 06:56am (Mla time) April 22, 2005
"Three Filipinos were stabbed by a Chinese national who ran amuck at the Tiananmen Square near
the Mao Zedong Mausoleum in Beijing between 9 and 10 a.m. on Tuesday, April 19, 2005,"
Charge d' Affaires Jaime Victor Ledda of the Philippine Embassy in Beijing said in his report to
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, which was quoted in the statement.
No China Apology for Anti-Japan Protests
By NATALIE OBIKO PEARSON, Associated Press Writer Sat May 7,10:06 AM ET
KYOTO, Japan - China's foreign minister again refused to apologize to Tokyo on Saturday for anti-Japan protests last month that damaged Japanese diplomatic compounds and businesses, but the sides agreed to pursue talks on compensating Tokyo for the damages, a Japanese official said.
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and his Japanese counterpart, Nobutaka Machimura, acknowledged there had been "some improvement" in rocky relations between the Asian giants, agreeing the region's stability depended upon their mending ties, Japan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hatsuhisa Takashima told reporters.
The two officials, meeting on the sidelines of a two-day Asia-Europe being held in Kyoto, Japan, also agreed to pursue discussions on how to compensate Japan for the damage, Takashima said
"To some extent there was no agreement and to some extent there was, I would say, a certain improvement in the situation," he said.
Relations have sunk to the lowest level in decades since violent anti-Japan protests erupted last month in several Chinese cities over Tokyo's wartime past and its push for a permanent U.N. Security Council seat.
China walks nationalist tightrope Tuesday, 3 May, 2005
By Louisa Lim
BBC News, Beijing
It has shut down nationalist websites, detained dissidents and sent out text messages warning against illegal demonstrations.
The moves come ahead of a sensitive anniversary in China-Japan relations - the 4 May student protests against Japan, which took place in 1919.
While the Chinese government has always made political use of nationalist sentiment among its public, it also recognises its dangers.
The demonstrations in 1919, when students marched through Beijing to protest against the influence exercised by Japan and other foreign powers, marked the birth of China's first mass movement.
The nationalistic, patriotic gathering was joined by workers and intellectuals, and eventually led to the birth of the Communist Party [CCP].
But now the spectre of 4 May raises very different fears for the government, according to author Yu Jie, an outspoken mainland commentator whose two books on Sino-Japanese relations have been withdrawn from bookshops in China.
The students realise they were being used as a political tool, but they still believe their point of view was right
Peking University student
"In the past century, anti-Japanese protests, from the 4 May movement in 1919 to the demonstrations in the 1980s, have changed [focus]... to criticising and showing discontent over domestic political issues.
"So the government is very afraid. The government's use of this popular anti-Japanese sentiment is dangerous, like walking along a tightrope," he said.
China suffers memory lapses too
By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
BBC correspondent, Beijing
When I asked my wife what she thought about this she laughed.
"That's crazy," she said, "yes, they are right-wing groups in Japan, that's true, but the vast majority of Japanese only want peaceful relations with China."
Mr Lu's view of Japan is informed by the Chinese Communist Party's own heavy brand of propaganda.
Young Chinese are taught about the atrocities committed by the Japanese during World War II. They are not however taught about the 17 official apologies that Japan has made to China over the last 30 years, including one from the Japanese emperor when he visited Beijing.
Nor are they told of the $30bn in aid that Japan has given to China since ties were re-established in 1972, aid that has helped build Beijing's international airport and the city's new subway system. You'll search in vain for a plaque on either acknowledging where the money came from.
Unlike Japan, in China the government really does control history.
China's own history has been relentlessly rewritten to erase the episodes the Communist Party would rather forget. Ask any young Chinese about Mao's disastrous "great leap forward" campaign in which more than 20 million people starved to death, and you will get a blank stare.
Ask about China's unprovoked invasion of Vietnam in 1979 in which tens of thousands of Vietnamese were killed. Again, nothing.
Last week China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao declared that:
"Only a country that respects history, and takes responsibility for history, can take greater responsibilities in the international community."
Letting Passions Burn May Backfire on China
By Mark Magnier, Times Staff Writer
China's ruling Communist Party, backed by a sophisticated Internet filtering system, an army of cyber-cops, a vigilant public security apparatus and an extensive informant network, is quick to shut down the slightest hint of a political movement. Yet it has allowed Patriots' Alliance and other anti-Japan groups to galvanize the nation, leading to an outpouring of rage that has brought tens of thousands of Chinese into the streets and has prompted attacks on Japanese companies, embassies and consulates.
Beijing's Turn to Apologize
April 25, 2005
So much for the myth that Tokyo refuses to apologize for its wartime atrocities. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's expression of remorse Friday was notable for its heartfeltness.
"Japan, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations," he told a conference of Asian and African leaders in Jakarta. "Japan squarely faces these facts of history in a spirit of humility."
Such expressions of remorse are far from new. Contrary to the impression created by the street protests in major Chinese cities in recent weeks, Japanese leaders have apologized many times previously for the sins of their predecessors. Mr. Koizumi's apology Friday was taken almost word for word from former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama's expression of "heartfelt remorse" a decade ago.
By his high-profile repetition of such sentiments before an international forum, Mr. Koizumi served a timely reminder to those who may have been misled by the recent Chinese protests -- or the actions of a few extremist Japanese textbook writers -- as to just how much modern Japanese leaders have done to atone for events that occurred more than half a century ago. No wonder that Singapore, which last week expressed concern about Japan's Education Ministry approving a textbook that plays down the 1937 Nanjing massacre, was quick to welcome Mr. Koizumi's remarks.
By contrast, China's grudging response to the Japanese Premier's apology puts paid to any lingering misconceptions that Beijing's encouragement of the recent street protests was motivated by genuine concern about the rewriting of Japan's wartime past. At a meeting between the two leaders, an expressionless President Hu Jintao curtly responded to Mr. Koizumi's conciliatory gesture by insisting that remorse be shown through action rather than words.
That ignores just how much Japan has already done in this respect. Take, for instance, the low-interest yen loans, which many regard as an unofficial form of war reparations. Tokyo has played a crucial role in facilitating China's rapid economic growth by providing $29 billion in soft loans over the past 25 years, making Beijing the second-largest recipient of Japanese aid. Or take the controversial visits to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, which includes memorials to war criminals. What Mr. Hu didn't mention in his complaint was that the 80 Japanese lawmakers who visited the shrine Friday were far fewer than the number who visited during the same period last year.
In short, Japan is doing a great deal to reduce recent tensions -- while Beijing seems to be going out of its way to aggravate them. That is proof enough of how the Communist leadership is exploiting historical grievances to further its own political purposes. For instance, it's no surprise to see Taiwan top Mr. Hu's agenda. He insisted Saturday that tensions cannot be defused until Japan "correctly handles" this issue. Still smarting from the international backlash against its recent anti-secession law, Beijing is trying to exploit the recent protests to claw back some lost ground, by pressuring Japan to back away from its revised strategic agreement with the U.S. in February. In that statement, Japan joined the U.S. in hoping for a peaceful resolution to the Taiwan Strait tension. Is peaceful resolution not also the goal of the Chinese government?
Nor is there the slightest sign of Beijing being willing to show remorse for its own misbehavior. Regardless of whether Chinese police stood by, or actively encouraged, the protestors who pelted Japanese diplomatic missions during the recent protests, Beijing violated its obligations under the Vienna Convention. Now that Mr. Koizumi has set the record straight about Japan's readiness to apologize for events that occurred more than half a century ago, it is China's turn to apologize for its own more recent misdeeds.
UN power play drives China protests
The demonstrations in China may have got out of hand, but there is no doubt that they were initiated with the connivance of the authorities. While the old issue of Japanese school textbook versions of Japan's occupation of China was one pretext, the main trigger was Japan's push to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
It is always a worrying sign when students vent their wrath against foreigners rather than campaigning against injustices at home - and when governments drum up nationalist sentiments to divert attention from their own failings. The demands for apologies for Japan's past sins have been highly selective.