The Chinese and Japan’s Tsunami

I’ve been confined to my bed the past four days, unable to do anything but watch TV and I feel totally tsunamied-out. But I wanted to take a moment to point readers to an excellent post over at Granite Studio about how Chinese “netizens” are reacting to the horror in Japan, and why Chinese feelings toward Japan are so complex.

I am several days late with this, but there is also a superb post over at Shanghai Scrap on Chiness reactions, and how the expected fenqing who welcome the calamity with open arms are being countered with a lof of compassion by other, more mature commenters.

I understand China’s complex attitude toward Japan. There’s plenty of reasons for it. But I’m glad to see a lot of Chinese people putting these feelings aside and expressing their compassion for the innocent victims of this incomprehensible tragedy.

I’m also ashamed of some Westerners who are making jokes about the Japanese people’s suffering. Imangine cracking Jokes about September 11th as the tragedy unfolded. Reprehensible.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 188 Comments

Ymk, not surprisingly you totally misunderstood Mike’s ironic question. Right over your head.

March 29, 2011 @ 7:04 am | Comment

To Jim #147,
people should rightfully denounce wartime atrocities, just as they should denounce slavery, or the holocaust. In fact, an African anerican can denounce Japanese atrocities, a Chinese citizen can denounce the holocaust, and a Jew can denounce slavery. Those things are wrong, and you don’t need to belong to a certain race or nationality to denounce them. However, historic wrongs hardly serve as a sane or plausible reason for today’s Chinese to hate today’s Japanese, etc.

To hate someone today for what their predecessors did is at best illogical, and at worst prejudicial.

March 29, 2011 @ 8:31 am | Comment

You can’t trust everything you read on the web
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/8411041/Desperate-mothers-walk-of-shame-revealed-as-publicity-stunt.html

Mind you, this is a pretty radical concpet to some…and that’s being clamped down on, if this is to be believed 🙂
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/8411055/Peking-University-to-screen-students-for-radical-thoughts.html

March 29, 2011 @ 10:18 am | Comment

S. K. Cheung, I just don’t agree with your logical. At best, your logical is illogical, and at worst it is bigotry. Using your logical, you seems to say that you know how African American feel about Slavery and even worst suggest they should feel the way you feel about the situation? Yet that’s something you clearly not qualified to talk about. That’s definition superior complex, It is same logical many neocons using to talks about slavery and holocaust.

March 29, 2011 @ 12:06 pm | Comment

To Jim,
Listen, probably best if you stick to your ” logic”, such as it is, cuz you sure aren’t grasping mine.

I don’t know how an African American feels about slavery, because I am not an african American. But I am quite capable of finding slavery to be deplorable. Are you neutral about slavery simply because you are not African American? Similarly, are you on the fence about the events of the holocaust simply because you aren’t Jewish? If you are, then I should stop here because there is no point talking to you.

On the other hand, if you can grasp that you dont need to have a shared ethnicity with the victims of some of history’s crimes in order to find those crimes deplorable, then we can move forward.

So, one can be repulsed by slavery, the holocaust, or Japanese war crimes, without being African American, Jewish, or Chinese, respectively. Now is that repulsion directed towards today’s Americans, Germans, and Japanese? If yes, then please explain, cuz today’ s Americans, Germans, and Japanese did NOT commit those vagrancies.

Now, going back to what you wrote in #147 regarding how Chinese feel about Japanese wartime atrocities. I think it’s quite understandable to be repulsed by those crimes. However, today’s Japanese didn’t commit them. So tell me, would it make sense to harbor hatred against today’s Japanese baesed on the crimes that a relative minority of their predecessors committed? Now, Chinese can feel how they feel, and I do not pretend to suggest to them in this regard. However, I will happily them them they are being illogical, if they have hatred towards Japanese circa 2011 for the crimes of a few Japanese circa 1940s. That has nothing to do with ” superiority”. It is just about being logical, and engaging the ol’ noodle. I suggest you do the same.

March 29, 2011 @ 2:33 pm | Comment

S. K. Cheung, there is a limit for human being to grasp the event based on the his/her own experience and his/her races. That’s why we all have our own bias . Surely, I can feel in some levels what African American feel about slavery and condone that act because I am human being, but I cannot nor I pretend to understand the WHOLE effect (or even 50%) slavery has affected on African American, even today. yet your whole argument is based that you can understand other races completely. That’s very pretentious and very dangerous.

March 29, 2011 @ 10:39 pm | Comment

Since when did I state or imply that I understand other races completely? My point is that any person of any race can and should rightfully denounce slavery, wartime atrocities, or the events of the holocaust. Nota complicated argument.

Besides, slavery and the holocaust are not the point. The point is that it is illogical for Chinese to have hatred towards today’s Japanese on the basis of wartime atrocities, because those atrocities were not committed by today’s Japanese. If you feel such hatred is logical or justified, well, you have yet to explain why. I am looking forward to it. And it should be a straightforward enough request, no?

March 30, 2011 @ 9:03 am | Comment

“Since when did I state or imply that I understand other races completely?”

So you are telling me that you are going to give your strong opinion regarding forgiveness even though you don’t know others’ situations and don’t understand how others feel about particular atrocities. Whether it is telling African American regarding Slavery or Chinese regarding Nanjing Masscre or Jewish regarding Holocaust, you are just going to give your stopping worry about past and just think about future speech. If they don’t agree with you, you think that they are illogical or ignorant.

It is one thing to have my belief or view on certain atrocities based on the limited information I know. But I certainly won’t tell others to how to forgive and forget if I don’t know other’s complete scenario. Maybe that’s difference between you and me.

March 30, 2011 @ 11:37 am | Comment

Jim
I know the subject of certain things are not to be forgotten…but how does, say, the feeling of people in Hong Kong about the Nanking massacres affect them? Or the people in Lhasa? Or Kashgar? Or even Peking?
By all means remember them, commemorate the events and have a day of mourning (there is a Remembrance Day in the UK commemorating the end of WWI and NZ and Australia commemorate Anzac Day), but this should not be a day to open old wounds and keep the hatred festering.
There was a lot of blood spilt in Peking on June the 4th 1989. I don’t think that’s even mentioned….

March 30, 2011 @ 3:45 pm | Comment

“So you are telling me that you are going to give your strong opinion regarding forgiveness even though you don’t know others’ situations and don’t understand how others feel about particular atrocities.”
—what is it with you people? Can you not read? This is what I had said (actually, said repeatedly): “My point is that any person of any race can and should rightfully denounce slavery, wartime atrocities, or the events of the holocaust. Nota complicated argument.”. And this: “The point is that it is illogical for Chinese to have hatred towards today’s Japanese on the basis of wartime atrocities, because those atrocities were not committed by today’s Japanese.” So after you’ve read it again, let me summarize for you: I am not talking about forgiveness. I am saying that it is illogical to “hate” today’s Japanese since they had nothing to do with historical atrocities. Forgiveness is a somewhat different issue. One can refuse to offer forgiveness without engaging in hatred. One can also choose to forgive without forgetting. That said, today’s Japanese also don’t require forgiveness, since, once again, they’re not the ones who committed the wrongs. In that sense, either way, you’re still talking about some Japanese circa 1940, and not Japanese circa 2011. Is this really such a complicated concept for you?

“you are just going to give your stopping worry about past and just think about future speech”
—huh? Seriously, can you read? More importantly, can you process and comprehend what you read? Cuz it doesn’t seem like it. When did I say people should “stop worrying about past”? What I’ve said is that it is illogical to hate today’s people for yesterday’s wrongs (committed by yesterday’s people). I’m using analogy here, so let me know if you’re confused.

“If they don’t agree with you, you think that they are illogical or ignorant.”
—I’ve already told you (several times) the basis upon which I judge whether someone is being illogical (in the context of the current discussion). You have yet to address those bases. Instead, you’ve kept yourself busy by arguing against stuff I haven’t said. Why is it that you people have to resort to that type of antic, almost all of the time? Is being disingenuous a rewarding pastime for you?

“Maybe that’s difference between you and me.”
—actually, one difference between you and me is that I can read, whereas you may not be doing so at an acceptable level. You should also note that, until this post, I had not even mentioned the concept of “forgive and forget”. But you’re already arguing against it. You types are just peas in a pod.

The other characteristic you folks share is the tendency to run away and hide from questions for which you have no answer. So just to help you out, here it is again: (already asked in #157, but not yet answered, as usual) “The point is that it is illogical for Chinese to have hatred towards today’s Japanese on the basis of wartime atrocities, because those atrocities were not committed by today’s Japanese. If you feel such hatred is logical or justified, well, you have yet to explain why.” (btw, in case it’s not abundantly clear, the challenge to you is in the second sentence of that quote. Thought I’d spell it out for you to avoid any further confusion on your part).

March 30, 2011 @ 4:48 pm | Comment

I stated my points four times. If you don’t get it, you don’t it. Go back and read my statement. You are the one who keeping on bringing up “it is illogical for Chinese to stop hate past Japanese”. That statement is irrelevant in all my arguments. My point is that stop telling people your belief if you don’t know their special scenario or understand them completely. If other people want to hate (whether it is logical or not), it is their choices. By the way, hate is emotional feeling why we keep arguing whether it is logical or not. It is ILLOGICAL to tell them to stop the hating Japanese if you don’t know the complete picture.

S.K. Cheung, Hope you got my point. If not, let’s stop it.

Mike Goldthorpe, of course, we should not encourage hate. That’s certainly true. However we don’t have right to tell others not to hate since we don’t know their special scenarios. For past crimes of communist party, people in China should not forget those as well. I am not defender of Communist party, as Cheung seems to suggest (and incorrectly by the way). In most my posts, I tend to support ordinary Chinese’s interest because I understand or try to understand them.

March 30, 2011 @ 6:34 pm | Comment

That nation have experienced the worst that could occur in their society in the past. Yes the earthquake, did kill lives, but it was not like the Haiti, where the entire nation was taken down with one shot, or Katrina, where mother nature, ethnically cleansed the area. Their is even South America, who was far more prepared then both of those nations.

China has political issues, in consideration to the coastal region of Japan.
They have toxic shit, pouring inside of the villages, policemen willing to roll out the tanks, and etc. Compared to Japan who has culture ( art ), technological advancements that are not borrowed, and society that could be salvaged.

Everybody knows that construction ( as always ) been a problem, over their, and the real issue here is their nuclear power plant, that already had warnings in the past, and now the threat is real.

Okay lets have a Zhōnghuá cultural exchange program next, so we can more hating.
Then people will be like…oh that is East Asian, that is no stupid Devil American.

March 30, 2011 @ 8:51 pm | Comment

“My point is that stop telling people your belief if you don’t know their special scenario or understand them completely.”
—what “special scenario” would logically justify hating TODAY’S Japanese for the crimes committed by some Japanese 70 years ago (when many of today’s Japanese weren’t even born yet)? This I would love to hear. And you seem shy about sharing your “logic” here.

“If other people want to hate (whether it is logical or not), it is their choices.”
—um, where did I seek to limit other peoples’ choices? If people want to be illogical, that’s their prerogative. I am merely pointing that fact out to them, and to you. Sometimes, when people realize they are not acting logically, they change their ways. I am not as hopeful with you, based on what I’ve seen so far.

“By the way, hate is emotional feeling why we keep arguing whether it is logical or not.”
—emotions can be logical or illogical. And as I say, if you want to be illogical, be my guest. I’m just here to point that out to you.

“It is ILLOGICAL to tell them to stop the hating Japanese if you don’t know the complete picture.”
—how is it illogical? If someone said “I hate the Japanese who committed those war-time atrocities”, I think that is entirely logical. If someone said ” I hate Japanese today because of the Japanese who committed those war-time atrocities”, well, i’ll leave you to figure that one out in terms of logic.

March 31, 2011 @ 2:13 am | Comment

Jim
“However we don’t have right to tell others not to hate since we don’t know their special scenarios.”
We do have the right to tell others not to hate – we don’t have the right to make them not hate. We also don’t have the right to tell others who or what to hate either…

Hope you see where my argument is going 🙂

March 31, 2011 @ 5:37 am | Comment

People are not responsible for violent acts committed by people 70 years ago. But in the case of Japanese soldiers in the invasion of China they were acting collectively for their country on the order of, and in the name of, the Japanese Emperor. Whatever they did was sanctioned by the Japanese nation. The atrocities were therefore actually committed by the Japanese nation and are etched in history forever. The present day nation of Japan is responsible for these acts just as Germany is responsible for the Holocaust. Germany has made appropriate amends to the Jews. But Japan has done nothing. On the contrary they are trying to alter history in their history books.

Richard @ 151. I tried to answer the question “Are those photos real?’ by describing them and hoped people would see that such scenes could not possibly be faked. No ulterior motives.

March 31, 2011 @ 7:46 am | Comment

“The present day nation of Japan is responsible for these acts just as Germany is responsible for the Holocaust”
Sorry, but why? And when do the people stop being responsible for the sins of their fathers?

March 31, 2011 @ 8:01 am | Comment

But Japan has done nothing.

Absolutely false, and a good indication that dialogue with you will be fruitless, as you have your own facts that do not synch with actual history. Maybe Japan hasn’t done enough in the eyes of crazed fenqing. But no one who knows his or her history can say with a straight face that Japan has done nothing.

Also, by your “logic” it seems that in the case of any nation that does something bad and that the nation doesn’t apologize for adequately it’s okay to keep on actively hating the individual citizens of that country even 70 years or even centuries after the actual event took place. Of course, the argument is made even more absurd because Japan has apologized many times. Yes, some birdbrain historians there are writing some revisionist histories of WWII (thank God China doesn’t practice history revision), but that has nothing to do with hating the younger generations of Japan 70 years after the crime of their parents, and more likely their grandparents. .

This is one of the most maddening subjects to attempt to discuss. It brings out so much willful ignorance and blind rage.

March 31, 2011 @ 8:04 am | Comment

Mike, good question. Only the immature and the indoctrinated go on hating the current generation of Japanese, or Germans, or whomever, so many generations after the crime.

March 31, 2011 @ 8:07 am | Comment

To YM:
“But in the case of Japanese soldiers in the invasion of China they were acting collectively for their country on the order of, and in the name of, the Japanese Emperor.”
—that is a better, and certainly more logical, argument. Since the soldiers who committed war-crimes were doing so in service of the emperor, and by extension, in service of the entire Japanese nation, you can forward a better argument that all Japanese people (and not just the war criminals) of 70 years ago share culpability. However, there are still issues with this. The Japanese people didn’t elect their emperor (which, ironically, distinguishes them from the Germans of the Nazi era). Also, it assumes that war criminals were acting under direct orders of the state to commit those atrocities, as opposed to being “off the reservation”, so to speak. I don’t know if there is evidence of direct state sanctioning of the war-crimes of which the war criminals were convicted.

Furthermore, to conclude that the atrocities were committed by the entire Japanese nation of 70 years ago is one thing. And certainly, that will never change. But the extension to present day Japanese people is far more tenuous. They certainly didn’t offer direct, indirect, or tacit support of any illegal war-time activities, since they weren’t around. And if you argue that present day Japanese are equally culpable, then is there an end-date to that argument? Or would you suggest that, from here till eternity, Japanese people will be culpable for the actions of a few from circa 1940?

In addition, you acknowledge right off the bat that people shouldn’t be held responsible for what other people did 70 years ago. So in essence, are you suggesting that it is reasonable to harbour continued hatred towards the Japanese nation, and not the Japanese people? It would be something like “hate Japan, but don’t hate the Japanese”. It would be a logical, but extremely subtle, distinction.

March 31, 2011 @ 8:18 am | Comment

The present day nation of Japan is responsible for these acts just as Germany is responsible for the Holocaust. Germany has made appropriate amends to the Jews. But Japan (#165)

I’m not sure if commenters who habitually draw these parallels – or differences – between Japan and Germany understand that many of “the Jews” they mention were actually Germans, many of whom had fought for their country in World War 1. Some jewish survivors stayed in Germany after the nazi era. Making “amends” was both an international, and a domestic issue.

Chinese nationals who are so obsessed with the Japanese past might consider taking a look at their ruling party, and the amends it has or has not made for the “Great Leap Forward” or the CR, too.

March 31, 2011 @ 12:37 pm | Comment

Richard,

I’m aware that you may have reasonably considered my last post to be of merely peripheral interest to this thread but did it really deserve to be deleted? Was it that bad?

March 31, 2011 @ 10:22 pm | Comment

S.K.Cheung #169

“So in essence, are you suggesting that it is reasonable to harbour continued hatred towards the Japanese nation, and not the Japanese people? It would be something like “hate Japan, but don’t hate the Japanese”. It would be a logical, but extremely subtle, distinction.”

I’d point out that, similarly, there are some on here who appear to hate the Chinese nation while at the same time claiming not to hate the Chinese people. I agree with you that the distinction is a logical one. However, if, as you say, it’s also an “extremely subtle” distinction, perhaps we can understand why some of our fenqing friends, who tend not to be strong on subtlety, react to criticisms of China in the way they sometimes do.

March 31, 2011 @ 11:19 pm | Comment

Stuart #3

“…the ongoing complicity of the Chinese government in fomenting hatred towards the Japanese through ‘patriotic education’, textbooks, and classroom tales from the crypt. Add to that the nightly serialisations of evil bayonet-wielding Japs hovering over defenceless Chinese maidens and you’ve got yourself a hard-wired dehumanised enemy. If you want a comparison with Nazi Germany, Goebbels’ portrayal of the Jews is it.”

With due respect, that is an utterly witless comparison.

March 31, 2011 @ 11:26 pm | Comment

Richard, re “I’m also ashamed of some Westerners who are making jokes about the Japanese people’s suffering. Imagine cracking Jokes about September 11th as the tragedy unfolded. Reprehensible.”

There’s been a lot worse than jokes by Westerners about the Japanese disaster, I’m afraid. Have you had the misfortune to come across any of the Facebook & Tweet pages on the net stuffed with hundreds of gloating, hate-filled comments by (apparently) Americans exulting over what happened, jeering at the victims & hailing the earthquake as Divine revenge & fitting retribution for the attack on Pearl Harbour? True, those posters are just internet nonentities (but then I’d never heard of Gilbert what’s-his-name either). There are idiots in every country.

April 1, 2011 @ 12:06 am | Comment

Jer, I did not delete your comment. Email it to me and I will make sure it gets posted.

If a moderator is deleting comments please let me know. Thanks.

April 1, 2011 @ 12:42 am | Comment

Richard

I posted it several days ago. It appeared on this page as normal but by the next morning it had disappeared. It had been showing as somewhere between #135 & #140, I think. Apologies for assuming that you had deleted it.

I don’t know how or whether it’s possible to retrieve it for reposting but it may have been no great loss to this thread anyway.

For what it’s worth, I was responding to wei’s comment (#122) that “if the normal mortality was actually 12 per thousand then that was a stupendous achievement to get the mortality down to that level” (ie a level barely above that of developed countries like the UK or USA).

I pointed out that he appeared to have failed to take into account the age structure of China’s population at the time, which like that of nearly all developing countries would have shown a preponderance of younger people. The older people are, the more chance they have of dying. Thus the mortality rate in, for example, Ghana is lower than that in Sweden but nobody thinks that this is because the people who live there are healthier or better fed. They’re just, on average, younger. Therefore, even a lowering of the death rate is in itself not necessarily a “stupendous achievement”: a spike in the birth rate for example would suffice to achieve this result, (all other things being equal &, in particular, assuming a less than astronomical perinatal mortality rate).

(The above argument does not exclude the possibility that the Chinese government’s actions & policies did in fact contribute to a reduction in the mortality rate during the first few Maoist years.)

A pedantic point, perhaps, but one that I felt merited at worst a yawn rather than a deletion!

April 1, 2011 @ 2:13 am | Comment

To Jer #176,
now that you mention it, I do recall reading that a few days ago. Didn’t realize it had disappeared.

You bring up a good point, since countries with older populations can naturally be expected to have more deaths due to old age than countries with younger populations. So countries with younger populations should be expected to have lower mortality rates, unless their mortality rates are being driven by unexpected/premature deaths.

In that vein, i wonder if life expectancy is a better assessment of the overall health status of a nation. A truly healthier nation with low mortality rate will have improved life expectancy, and the metric wouldn’t discriminate against nations with older populations.

To Jer #172:
another excellent point. I certainly agree that having a grasp of logic or subtlety is not a characteristic in abundant supply among the FQ. I think most commentators have no animosity towards Chinese people. I further don’t think that many have animosity towards China as a nation. I think the disdain is directed towards the CCP and her system of governance. There is more than a subtle distinction between the CCP and China as a nation, to compound upon the subtle distinction between China as a nation and Chinese as a people. So it’s really two degrees of separation on the subtlety scale. Sadly, as you note, that is still too subtle for the FQ to process.

April 1, 2011 @ 6:23 am | Comment

@jer Your #177 second para. That must be minor section in the US. In my neck of the woods, there has been pretty well universal sympathy and admiration of the stoicism of the Japanese people, and this in spite of the barbarities inflicted on our nationals during WW11.

Then again, we have pretty serious media hate crime legislation, which people accept as necessary for the maintenance of a ‘civil’ civil society. Sometimes things get a little too politically correct, but overall such legislation has long-term societal benefits ie we are all human beings and deserve consideration as such.

April 1, 2011 @ 7:00 am | Comment

1. Never forget what we allege Mao did!!!

2. World War 2 is in the past, forget about it already! It was no big deal!

April 1, 2011 @ 11:46 am | Comment

1. Never forget what we allege the British did in 1840!!!

2. What the PLA in 1989 is in the past, forget about it already. It was no big deal!

Seems to work for some political parties, eh?

April 1, 2011 @ 1:43 pm | Comment

To Mike,
that is beautiful. Of course, we shouldn’t strive to bring ourselves down to YF’s level all of the time, but it can certainly be amusing every now and then.

Besides, who knew that adopting a logical mindset equated to “forgetting”? I guess the FQ really do operate in a unique universe. I wonder if they have gravity…

April 1, 2011 @ 4:15 pm | Comment

And I hate to ruin your straw man fantasies (your other skill beyond anecdotes), but I definitely believe Japan has suffered enough. Especially those who weren’t alive in WW2.

Maybe if an a-bomb is dropped on London and Manchester we can start letting them off the hook.

April 2, 2011 @ 1:44 am | Comment

“but I definitely believe Japan has suffered enough. Especially those who weren’t alive in WW2.”
—whew, what a relief! There is at least one FQ who doesn’t promote random hatred of Japanese people. One is better than none, I suppose. Not exactly proof of concept, but at least a sign of genetic plausibility.

On the other hand, flippant talk about dropping a-bombs anywhere shows that there is still a long way to go before civility can be approached. I should add that to my list in #177 of the things FQ possess in short supply.

April 2, 2011 @ 7:28 am | Comment

King Tubby #178

“That must be minor section in the US.”

I hope & believe you’re right…but there seem to be an awful lot of them!

This has got to be the best one: “Those damn Krauts (sic) deserve to be hit by an earthquake tsunami for nuking (sic) Pearl Harbor”. (Punctuation, spelling & grammar corrected.)

I certainly don’t think these idiots are representative of the wider American public any more than I think the gloating Chinese cyber-nonentities are typical of China. I have faith that most people in all countries are normal, decent people. But there are idiots everywhere.

I agree with you about the long term benefits, overall, of effective media hate crime legislation. However, for better or worse it’s difficult to police internet based social media.

April 2, 2011 @ 8:13 am | Comment

Mike Goldthorpe #166

““The present day nation of Japan is responsible for these acts just as Germany is responsible for the Holocaust”
“Sorry, but why? And when do the people stop being responsible for the sins of their fathers?”

I hope YMKwan won’t mind if I try to answer your (semi-rhetorical?) questions for him.

I think I’m right in saying that a nation state has a continuity of responsibility across generations for things done in its name & under its authority. However, the individual, personal responsibilities of the people living in that state at any given time are a different matter. The current generation of people in Japan are neither morally nor legally responsible for the sins of their fathers: they have no case to answer. The state of Japan, however, is still responsible & (potentially) legally liable, (provided the atrocities were carried out under its authority, which I presume is not what you’re disputing).

It’s pointless therefore to ask YMKwan why he thinks Japan is responsible. It’s not a personal opinion of his that he can or needs to justify.

And as to your second question, the answer is that they never were responsible for the sins of their fathers, but they might have to pay for them.

As you’re aware, it’s the state of Japan that the former comfort women have been suing recently, not the sons of the fathers who committed the sins against them all those years ago.

BTW, I gather that Germany is still paying reparations to the state of Israel for the Holocaust. And I read somewhere that Germany did not complete paying reparations for the FIRST World War until October last year! That’s more like their great grandfathers’ sins they were still paying for!

April 2, 2011 @ 10:19 am | Comment

To Jer:
“they never were responsible for the sins of their fathers, but they might have to pay for them.”
—I like that. And since it might hit them in the wallet, this distinction would be much less subtle than the earlier ones.

April 2, 2011 @ 12:57 pm | Comment

Most of the agreements between Germany and Israel were made within a decade after the war, i. e. between 1949 and 1953. There was another round of negotiations in the first decade of this century which was mostly meant to help survivors in Eastern Europe. Both sides were under the impression of German atrocities 60 to 65 years ago. The recent consideration was to help people who had been left out after the war, and during the cold war.

The cold war has probably facilitated such negotiations between Germany and Israel, and made them difficult or impossible between Japan and China.
A short history of Japanese aid to China (beginning in the late 1970s) can be found on Wikipedia, “Foreign aid to the People’s Republic of China”.

My impression is that such negotiations work best when the survivors or the bereaved are at the center, as individuals. When national identity comes into play, and when both sides talk as mere collectives, things tend to become politicized, and that is likely to lead to rather negative attitudes.

My view of Japan today – #42.

April 2, 2011 @ 2:46 pm | Comment

To be fair China rejected state reparations from Japan on both counts, once under Mao and again under Deng. So did S. Korea and Taiwan for some reason. The Japanese civil court should pay reparations to comfort women though, and more Japanese today are agreeing that they should. Hell it’s not even a lot of money on a state level, they should just drop the pride and do it for the sake of Asian friendship.

April 2, 2011 @ 3:40 pm | Comment

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