Save Our Children from Hatred…

From guest blogger Martyn…

I read with sadness this letter in today’s South China Morning Post from, apparently a Hong Kong Chinese gentleman. The letter raised two excellent points that I found both fascinating and largely true. Read on:

Save our children from a hatred of Japan

During the 60th anniversary of the end of the second world war this month, the public focused on the hideous crimes that the Japanese committed. This focus synthesised hatred among several generations in the invaded countries. In a condescending tone, these countries asked repeatedly for a formal apology.

The Japanese people are tired of the incessant apologies that they have had to make. This has contributed to the recent growth in rightists in Japan. They feel that Japan should give up its timorous policies on international issues, including relations with neighbouring countries.

The mistake was not learned. After Germany’s defeat in the first world war, the allies required it to pay heavy reparations “for causing all the loss and damage to which the allied and associated governments and their nationals have been subjected as a consequence of the war imposed upon them …” (Treaty of Versailles, Article 231).

This weakened Germany’s economy, but united the people under a powerful leader, Adolf Hitler. They were distressed to be suppressed by the allies, and hatred raged through the country. Germany set out on an aggressive path.

It is a history we should reflect on. In Asia, the invaded countries, primarily China and Korea, have asked many times for a formal apology from the current Japanese government. Hatred has deepened among the people of these countries over generations. Soon it will overwhelm us. Save our children from this consuming hatred.

WAI LEE, Taikoo Shing

All readers of this site are aware of the details surrounding the current China-Japan relationship and therefore I am loathe to initiate a further debate on whether Japan has apologized enough, the textbooks which skim over Japanese wartime atrocities etc. I would instead cite the two points from SCMP reader Mr. Lee which I find so interesting.

Firstly, he claims that the demanding and unforgiving attitude adopted by China towards Japan only serves to inflame and consequently drum up support for the Japanese right-wing. This, I firmly believe, is true. Every time China wags a finger at Japan for perceived slights and inability to atone for wartime excesses, I can imagine the right-wing Japanese press going into overtime with articles shouting, “enough is enough!” Recent shifts in Japanese public opinion would suggest that this is accurate.

The second point compares feelings towards Japan today to the aggressive attitude of the Allies towards post-WWI Germany, a stance viewed by many historians to have significantly contributed to the conditions that allowed the rise of Germany’s WWII government.

When Koizumi recently called for new general elections in Japan, commentators everywhere speculated whether he would visit the Tokyo shrine that so inflames Japan’s neighbours. The fact that, on the anniversary of Japan’s WWII surrender, Koizumi did not visit the shrine probably had something to with a recent opinion poll that showed a majority of Japanese do not approve of the visits. However, the figure of 37% of Japanese people that do approve of the visits will only increase as long as China maintains its current attitude towards Japan.

This attitude also serves to push Japan further into the US-camp, a result that further confirms China’s fears of a containment policy towards it. In 2006, Japan will come completely under the US anti-missile security umbrella and US Aegis anti-missile warships will permanently patrol the Sea of Japan. It is not only the errant thread of North Korea that has caused this but also China belligerent attitude towards Japan.

The Discussion: 34 Comments

I wonder if this letter has been or can be publized on the mainland? Perhaps Jerome can take it up or it can be forwarded to Beijing Youth Daily. It would be too bad if it dies a silent death in HK.

August 20, 2005 @ 2:59 am | Comment

I posted this comment somewere else, but let me post it here too.

Our governments are clearly not on friendly terms right now. It appears that feelings of resentment and hostility toward each other have been growing among, in particular, the younger generations in both Japan and China.

But why do we need to be very friendly to each other? If we can manage to maintain the status quo, it may turn out to be not so bad for each other.

The bilateral trade is good so far, complementing each other with China providing what we need here while Japan doing the same for China. The Chinese economy looks like in great shape at the moment. Japan’s economy is in a recovery phase.

Of course, unless we are very friendly, it is unlikely that Chinese people get what they want to get from the Japanese, such as satisfactory appology, proper descriptions in history textbook, etc. Demanding them may be counter-effective.

But so what? The Chinese say that they haven’t still gotten them after 65 years from the end of the World War II. That means that they can live without them and with the status quo as far as the bilateral relations between the two nations are concerned.

Issues that are said to be provocative from Chinese point of view are already out there, not hiden somewhere in the back. The Taiwan issue has always been around. We have the already-publicized dispute over the natural gass exploration. Yasukuni visit, appology, those islands, and textbook issues have been around for some time and not new. We have lived in peace and will live in peace with those issues unresolved.

So the status quo may be good enough. But it should not get worsen any further. Thus, the important question we should be asking now is how we can maintain the status quo with regard to Sino-Japanese relations.

August 20, 2005 @ 4:01 am | Comment

I’m interested in the analagy with post-Versailles treatment of Germany and think it’s valid to some point. Germany however suffered, and by 1926 was on the League of Nations Security Council. Neither is applicable in this case to Japan.

August 20, 2005 @ 4:51 am | Comment

pete, I think that the contents of the letter would prohibit any newspaper editor from touching it. I might be wrong but it’s outlining an alternative policy to the current govy/party line.

Also, the final line about not passing such hatred onto the poor kids is definitely a no-go area considering that 9 whole chapters in the current Chinese Middle School history book are about the Japanese invasion of China.

August 20, 2005 @ 7:46 am | Comment

I think the current aggrevation between China and Japan is very sad. As I have always maintained, there is much Japan must address over its past. The Japanese education ministry should outline a basic description of the war that all textbooks should follow and get it over with.

But at the same time, those Asian nations that are still angry with Japan over WWII (because some have accepted Japanese apologies to an extent) must take care they aren’t poisoned by hate. Because I don’t believe everything would be hunky-dory in Asia if Japan “said sorry properly”. It is clear to me these people simply do not trust each other in general. Can you imagine ASEAN members trying to sell an “EU constitution” to their nations?

I have to admit I get very annoyed at these people who scream and beat their chests over what happened. First of all, most of them weren’t affected. The victims go through the courts or simply pray for peace – they don’t burn the Japanese flag. How dare young nationalists presume to know what these poor souls suffered! Living through war is like experiencing Hell on earth. What do they know of suffering, with their KFC meals and internet cafes? Because the poor are too busy working to protest about the past.

By neighbour was a chindit, one of most courageous units that ever fought against the Japanese. He was also captured and imprisoned in a POW camp. Obviously those years were difficult for him to deal with – I don’t know that he ever did. But he summoned the courage to visit Japan on holiday with his wife (he’s now dead) and he quite enjoyed it. I think it helped him deal with some of the ghosts that doubtlessly plagued him, to see that defeating Japan had helped it turn into the modern, democracy it is today. And he never expressed hatred towards the Japanese of today. But, hey, he was a good Christian and a gentleman, rather than bitter and twisted.

Equally many of my Chinese friends’ families suffered at the hands of the IJA. But none of them expressed hatred towards the Japanese people – perhaps annoyance towards the government. So if people like these can move on and make friends with Japanese people/visit Japan, why do others get so angry?

My guess is that it’s the old case of having a “boogey-man”. If you can demonise a country or people, you can divert attention from your own failings/problems caused by your own people.

Someone once pointed out to me that Japan and China got along quite well in the not too distant past (post WWII). So I wondered why they don’t now. I think it was because the CCP rejected Maoist thought in the early 1990s, so needed something to replace it with after Zhao Ziyang’s overthrow and the Tiananmen debacle. Nationalism was just the ticket, so the media started bringing up Japanese war-guilt again.

August 20, 2005 @ 2:40 pm | Comment

I’ve also had enough of Chinese demands for historical “truth”, when their government (which has a strangehold on Chinese education) allows textbooks that claim the Americans started the North Korean war and that China was only defending the North. Of course they fail to mention the UN-approved multi-nation taskforce that was dispatched to defend the South.

One of the British regiments that is “near” where I live was virtually massacred by the Red Chinese locusts in Korea. But the attack on the UN by China is not mentioned. Indeed, China is one of the few powers to have actively attacked UN-forces when they weren’t originally under attack.

It’s a case of the teapot calling the kettle black.

August 20, 2005 @ 2:57 pm | Comment

Red Chinese locusts? I had no idea that Maoism had advanced to the point where the CCP could harness the powers of the insect kingdom!

Mao was not going to tolerate an American army on the border of China. The PRC passed several messages to the American government through the Indian embassy, telling them to pull their forces back from the border. They even pulled their first punches at U.N. forces, pulling back after their initial successful assaults, hoping the U.S. would get the message. Only after they did not did the PLA attack full on.

August 20, 2005 @ 4:36 pm | Comment

First of all, the UN hadn’t finished the North Koreans off before Mao get involved. It wasn’t just the Chinese who drove the taskforce back. The UN was hardly going to camp on the border when what the member states want to do was get their boys home.

Second, Mao had no right to attack a UN force fighting in another country. If he didn’t like that, he shouldn’t have been doing his best to get the PRC recognised as the legitimate Chinese government!

August 20, 2005 @ 5:34 pm | Comment

(contined from above)

…….. and get the UNSC seat occupied by the Republic of China (Taiwan) at the time.

August 20, 2005 @ 5:35 pm | Comment

Generally speaking, asians are not as forgiving as westerners; and the historical problem between Japan and China (to a less extent Korea) will linger for a long time. In my opinion, it is a chiken and egg problem and both sides ae at fault. It is also a results from China’s rise. Many Chinese have become more confident and assertive and many Japanese feel nervous about China’s rise. There has nerver been a time in history that China and Japan are strong.

The title of this thread is a bit sensational. I don’t think the government is widely promoting hate of the Chinese toword the Japanese. I am sure if you can see lots of heated debates on this, but most Chinese simply don’t care abot this. By the way, how many Chinese visit and comment on Peking Duck? -:)

August 20, 2005 @ 7:16 pm | Comment

It should read:

There has nerver been a time in history that China and Japan are strong at the same time.

August 20, 2005 @ 7:17 pm | Comment

Renxu, thankfully, lots of Chinese people read and comment on this site. Likewise the writer of the letter is Hong Kong Chinese. Remember, HK also suffered a brutal invasion and wartime occupation by the Japanese.

The title is emotional I’ll admit but I decided to stick with the original headline as it appeared in the SCMP. Who am I to change it?

The two points made by Mr. Lee (that Chinese attitudes will increase support for the right-wing in Japan, push Japan further towards the US and the comparison with Weimar Germany) are both very well made.

Chinese govt policy towards its neigbour is certainy a double-edged sword.

August 20, 2005 @ 7:39 pm | Comment


My point is that most Chinese have no interest on the matter with Japan. I personally dislike the protects against Japan.

As to the thread title, it is just my obversation, I am not against it or for it, nothing important.

August 20, 2005 @ 8:03 pm | Comment


I just can’t help it …………

“Mao had no right to attack a UN force fighting in another country.”
You didn’t really mean a UN force, did you? A UN force as in today’s coalition force in Iraq?

“If he didn’t like that, he shouldn’t have been doing his best to get the PRC recognised as the legitimate Chinese government!”?

Mao to do his best go get PRC recognized? That will never happen regardless of what China do. China didn’t get the UN seat back due to anything it had done, but because of a geopolitical decision to use China to counter Soviet Union.

August 20, 2005 @ 8:11 pm | Comment

Renxu, I have no idea as to your background but you appear level-headed and a gracious debater, two things which cannot, unfortunately, be said for the people I know and speak to here. I’ve lived in China for many many years and, presently, one only has to mention the word “Japan” to turn most mainlanders into vein-bulging, eye-popping…you get the picture.

15 years ago, “Japan”, the “US”, even “nationalism” simply wasn’t spoken about—it just wasn’t an issue. People were inquisitive towards the outside world and still dreamed of having bicycles, fridges and TVs. 10 years ago it was the same, only fridges and TVs had been replaced by mobile phones and cars.

Therefore, I’ve witnessed with my own eyes this rise of nationalism and the Japan issue. Sadly it predominates mainly among the young. My Chinese parents, who actually lived through the Japanese occupation, I’ve yet to hear either of them speak of it–and I live with them!

The “Policy Outline for Implementing Patriotic Education” law enacted in Sept 1994 which ordered that: “Patriotic Education shall run through the whole education process from nursery school to university and must penatrate classroom teaching of all related subjects” is clearly designed to breed aggreived young patriots. That, together with offical govt control of information and the media greatly contributes to the current state of affairs.

This is not speculation on my part, I’m directly quoting from the laws of the PRC.

August 20, 2005 @ 10:00 pm | Comment

Martyn wrote,

>I have no idea as to your background but you appear level-headed and a gracious debater.

I don’t hold a monolistic view on the Chinese leaders. I don’t need to list the things I dislike about them here (you probably know from my comments before). But as long as they keep improving and for most Chinese, today’s life is better than yesterday’s, I am OK with the government.

Now on the matter between China and Japan. I remember when I was in high school, there was a section in the history textbook on the war between China and Japan. And I watched many movies on that suject. Many people of my generation may dislike the Japanese; but I don’t think many hate them. As some of the coments in this forum correctly pointed out, the relationship between China and Japanese was quite good until recently.

I don’t know what’s on the Chinese textbook on Japan these days; but I will be very surprised if there are more anti-Japanese proproganda than before. As to the Patriotic Education you mentioned, I didn’t like it the way it was done but I felt OK with most of the content when I was a student in China. Please show me some text if you think it promotes hatrid toward the Japanese.

As to your view, “chinese attitudes will increase support for the right-wing in Japan, push Japan further towards the US”. I don’t think the Chinese leaders (or the people) should get excited whenver some polititians say something they don’t like; but I certainly disagree with you that the Chinese foreign policy with japan should be held hostage to the rightists in Japan.

August 20, 2005 @ 11:21 pm | Comment


You live in Guangzhou (I lived there for a few years too) and you are able to critisize the Chinese government freely on this forum and have not get into trouble. It seems to me that the government is praticing a benign distatorship. -:)

August 20, 2005 @ 11:29 pm | Comment

I’m a foreigner Renxu, in China foreigners can get away with MURDER.


August 20, 2005 @ 11:31 pm | Comment


Then, why not murder some Chinese leaders which you don’t like if you have a chance -:)

August 20, 2005 @ 11:36 pm | Comment

No, seriously, as you say above, for Chinese people their material lives (TVs, DVDs, cars etc) and the freedoms they are allowed (movement, marriage, jobs etc) have improved immeasurably since the ’80s. No one can take that away from the Chinese govt. Therefore, I don’t criticise them on that score.

20 years ago, jobs were allocated to people by the govt and one’s Danwei (the work unit, not the blog!) controlled every aspect of one’s life, from travel to accomodation to marriage. Therefore, it’s ESSENTIAL to bear this in mind when looking at today’s China.

I don’t think the govt does enough to take China down the road that I would, personally, like to see it take but, as they say, that it another story…..:-)

August 21, 2005 @ 12:02 am | Comment


I am very disappointed with the leaders on the lack of any meaningful political reform. It will eventually happen; but then, we may be all dead then.

Looking at the Chinese government, and then I look at the Bush administration, not really much better; no need to say any much here. So that lessen my disappointment on the Chinese leaders.

August 21, 2005 @ 12:23 am | Comment


But the beauty of it is, NO MORE BUSH IN 08! He only gets to run twice, and if people have any sense, they will repudiate his policies and elect a very different President. As some famous person once said (and I’ve repeated ad nauseum), dem0cracy is a pretty lousy system – it’s just better than anything else we’ve tried.

It’s all about having a feedback mechanism – it’s a chance for people to consider their government’s failures and successes and decide if they want more of the same or something different.

Now, if America doesn’t elect some better leaders in 06 and 08, your cynicism is entirely warranted, and I will be laying my plans to leave the country…

August 21, 2005 @ 2:12 am | Comment


I agree with Churchhill comment on democracy. If the constitution allowed a person to serve president for three terms, I occationally think that George Bush might be elected again. America is a magic land, welcoming people around the world to live and work here. Despite my occational critisisms about it (just like many Americans), I take this to heart. It is very different from countries like China and Japan in this respect.

August 21, 2005 @ 2:51 am | Comment

Dear Renxu,

That’s good to hear. America has a lot of problems, but we do some things right.

As for Bush, his approval rating is down in the 40%…so I don’t think we have to worry about him being elected to a third term…

August 21, 2005 @ 2:58 am | Comment

My American friends often tell me that if America gets a problem , we will fix it. When I visited China, I liked to tell my parents about this American spirit. Over the last few years, I am increasing doubtful about the country’s ability to fix some of its problems. It seems to me there are many special interest groups and quite difficult to get things done. The system does not seem to work as well as before. But anyway, it still has one of the best systems.

August 21, 2005 @ 3:13 am | Comment


No, it was a UN-force, as it was authorised by the UNSC.

Can you understand that simple principle?

August 21, 2005 @ 4:02 am | Comment

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a set date on the calendar when you knew the CCP would be out of power? That’s the beauty of democracy.

I agree that there is too much influence of special interests, but (instert the Churchill quote here).

In other news, I am in Tokyo and it is expensive.

August 21, 2005 @ 7:17 am | Comment


It was an UN force. May I ask the troop composition? Just curious.

August 21, 2005 @ 11:55 am | Comment

Info here:

August 21, 2005 @ 12:29 pm | Comment

Wah wah, a Republican is President, America must be in the toilet bowl! Sounds just like the whiny Republicans who complained about the Democrat Clinton! One thing Americans can be guaranteed to do is over dramatize the situation. Americans are too emotional, as the Chinese rightly say.

Clinton burned down Waco and went after American militia groups, Bush is going after terrorists. Both sides said this was unprecedented abuse of the law, it’s the end of the world, yada yada. It’s just 2 shitty Presidents for 16 straight years, and America is still ok! Why? Because the government doesn’t have as much power as other countries. It is the average people who make the country work.

renxu, trust me – the system works. You’re probably just talking to people who emote rather than think. America has always had these problems, it’s just when people are out of power that it becomes the end of the world. Not much history is taught anymore, so many are ignorant of the far greater problems of the past.

August 21, 2005 @ 2:16 pm | Comment

Getting back to apologies and forgiveness, I would suggest that finding a way for the PRC to forgive Japan should be of personal interest and benefit for the current leadership of the PRC. After all, they are very likely themselves to need forgiveness in future when their own actions of the past are brought up by a successor government. If they make it too hard to forgive the Japanese, they make it too hard for the people to forgive them too.

August 23, 2005 @ 12:08 pm | Comment

Here’s my analysis:

If you think for one moment this anti-Japanese attitude is PRC government-driven, then you are a dummy. I know lots of Chinese from the mainland, and let me tell you, it’s close to 100% anti-Japan all the way. IF I am a Japanese, instead of all this going to visit some dead guys in some old shrine, I’d be going to China and making AMPLE AMPLE AMPLE apologies, and back it up with real sincere moves, instead of rewriting history in the classroom. I’d do the same with Korea because let me tell you, it’s not just Chinese who are mad, it’s also the Koreans. So if Japan wants survive for the next 100 years, they’d gotta do more than making some smilely apologies on the podium of some prime minister.

As for the PRC government? Well, they’re pretty happy with all this anti-Japanese rhetoric, it certainly unites the country. Japan and Koizumi may be the best thing that ever happened for the PRC. Also, it’ll be the best gift ever to the PRC should Japan ever get involved in Taiwan independence. That’ll really rally the country behind the government.

August 27, 2005 @ 8:28 pm | Comment

Here are some ways for Japan to diffuse the anti-Japan from China:

1) Stop visiting the dead men’s shrine

2) Stop rewriting history in textbooks

3) Stop letting Lee Teng-Hui, former president of Taiwan and now an avowed Taiwan secessionist visit Japan

4) Stop implicitly supporting Taiwan independence (respect national integrity of China)

5) Share the disputed islands with China

6) And, stop telling America that China is a threat in the Pacific.

I’d think that would do a whole lot. Otherwise, keep risking being nuked, one of these days.

August 27, 2005 @ 8:39 pm | Comment

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a set date on the calendar when you knew the CCP would be out of power? That’s the beauty of democracy.>>>>>Johnny K

The CCP will be out of power. The question is when. And certainly the set date has a lot to do with how much foreigners like yourself intervene in China’s domestic affairs, including territorial integrity. I can tell you the more you support secessionist movements in Taiwan, or Tibet, the longer the CCP will stay in power because the Chinese people have a strong distate for splitting up their country and siding with so-called democracy forces that are supported by foreign interests.

You’ll have to admit George Bush is in power because FOREIGN interests, in this case Al Qaeda and Bin Ladin, are seeking to destroy America, and so Americans tend to side with the ruling power just out of nationalistic concerns. And that’s how BUSH stayed in power. The same in China with the CCP. So stop making the Chinese people mad with your incesssant China-bashing. IT’s SICKENING and quite hypocritical.

August 27, 2005 @ 9:08 pm | Comment

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