China: Japan is to blame for recent violence in China

It’s like one of those ancient, never-ending feuds, like Capulet and Montague, or the Hatfields and the McCoys.

China raised the stakes of its increasingly bitter dispute with Japan on Monday by saying that Japan itself was to blame for anti-Japanese violence that flared across China over the weekend.

Japan’s foreign minister, Nobutaka Machimura, demanded compensation and an apology from the Chinese government for the destruction of Japanese-owned property by thousands of sometimes rowdy demonstrators on Saturday and Sunday.

But in response to the demand, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry stressed that Japan should expect no apology.

“It’s not China that bears the blame for letting Sino-Japanese relations come to this pass,” said Qin Gang, the spokesman.

“Japan must conscientiously and appropriately deal with its history of invading China – a major issue of principle involving the feelings of the Chinese people,” he said.

The Japanese condemned the violence, but took a softer approach.

In Tokyo, the chief secretary of the Japanese cabinet, Kiroyuki Hosada, said China and Japan should try to calm relations.

Hosada said that both sides should work to “prevent mutual misunderstanding from growing,” and he also refrained from direct criticism of China’s statement that Japan is to blame for the weekend disturbances.

“If I said at this moment that this is terrible and condemned it, it would not make things any better,” he said of the Chinese Foreign Ministry statement, according to news reports from the Japanese capital.

Japan may be seriously at fault when it comes to atoning for its sins of 60 years ago, but in terms of diplomatic skills, they win points for taking what appears to be a rational approach. (Again, in terms of diplomacy, not necessarily in terms of doing what’s right.)

The Discussion: 37 Comments

“they win points for taking what appears to be a rational approach”.

With the global eyes of every “Anti”Japan Group from the Netherlands to Australia and beyond upon them,did they have much choice?They showed what they think of their past, when they asked for the Chinese to apologise in the first place.


April 11, 2005 @ 7:20 pm | Comment

The eyes of every anti-China group are on China now. And yet China doesn’t feel the need to take the softer diplomatic course. The reactions of the two countries are completely consistent with the way each has approached foreign relations in the past quarter century. I love China, but its government hasn’t earned its reputation as a prickly, over-sensitive curmudgeon for nothing.

April 11, 2005 @ 7:34 pm | Comment

I already blogged the Cunningham story, below this post.

April 11, 2005 @ 8:34 pm | Comment

More on anti-Japan riots in China

More reaction and reports on the anti-Japan riots in China. In an effort to catch the populist wave, various Hong Kong groups are planning anti-Japan activites including a rally for this weekend. The issue is uniting the Democrats with the DAB, The Fro…

April 11, 2005 @ 8:42 pm | Comment


Agreed.Just to clarify my first line,as when I have looked at it now, I see that my meaning may not be clear.The “them” & “they”refers to the Japanese.

“The eyes of every anti-China group are on China now. And yet China doesn’t feel the need to take the softer diplomatic course.”

It may be that China is not looking at the Anti-China groups(do they ever?),but rather looking at the Anti Japanese ones and drawing strenghth from what it sees there.

I’m involved with Far East PoW work,as a result,I’m in daily contact with a number of groups(mainly U.K. & Netherlands,not China) who have been politely protesting against Japan for years,and all that it has got them from the Japanese is contempt.My own observation is that people from some of these groups are beginning to feel that this type of militant approach,that the Chinese use,may be the only way.China may therefore not feel pressure to soften its approach,it may feel a type of tacit agreement to its methods by some Western based groups.There are many Anti Japanese petitions doing the rounds at present,the Chinese may interpret them as encouragement as well.

This is just my own observation,I don’t necessarily agree with what I’m seeing.


April 11, 2005 @ 9:09 pm | Comment

Thanks for the information, Mark. You seem to be very well informed. Any light you can shed on the Japanese and their stubborn stance would be appreciated.

April 11, 2005 @ 9:15 pm | Comment

I am afraid for my Japanese friends staying inn Beijing. I am of what blind anger from the Chinese may result in.
I wish the Japanese government would realize that the way they are handling this sensitive issue is threatening the security of their innocent citizens whom have nothing to do with the invasion/torture/massacres that took place some 50 years ago.

April 11, 2005 @ 9:19 pm | Comment

You wish the Japanese goverment would realize????? Hey, itโ€™s the Chinese government and their constant need to heighten this delicate issue beginning in primary school, embellishing it in middle school, and taking it to the heights of milking the victimization in college and then into adulthood with its media THAT needs to take a responsibility。
I am not refuting the atrocities committed by the Japanese in China or anywhere else during that time。 I am condemning the lack of responsibility of the Chinese government to promote tolerance and a general idea of progress, but then again, such idealism on my part goes against the very grain of keeping the Chinese people as looking like knee jerk reactionists and how do you suppose the Chinese will behave in Beijing during 2008?
The textbook issue is lame; yeah lame, because it really is just another issue to heighten the Chinese population into embracing the xenophobic hysteria of a nation still steeped in backwardness and victimization, and still looks at difference–no matter what the nationโ€”as a threat。 Japan suffered enough in WW II–atomic bombs and numerous bombing missions, and they have gone on, developing and progressing。If Japan apologized for those textbook inaccuracies, would it really make any difference? I doubt it!

April 11, 2005 @ 10:19 pm | Comment

I think the amount of groups still protesting against Japan,and the recent outcome of cases against Japan by comfort woman etc, are examples of the results of Japans stance.One that comes to mind is the outcome of the Taiwanese Comfort Woman case in Feb :

Some examples of the type of Anti Japanese sentiment that the Chinese may interpret as tacit support ,even when it’s not.

The C.N.N. survey with over 800 thousand votes in the first 24 hours and 93% against Japan’s : may be an example of what the Chinese are focusing on.

This type of petition may be another example of what type of world opinion the Chinese wants to focus on : .


April 11, 2005 @ 10:48 pm | Comment

“Japan suffered enough in WW II–atomic bombs and numerous bombing missions?C and they have gone on?C developing and progressing?BIf Japan apologized for those textbook inaccuracies?C would it really make any difference?H I doubt it?I”

To your brain has left the building,

Yeah Japan should never apologize to the Chinese and Koreans, They were considered sub-human anyway, right?!

April 11, 2005 @ 11:35 pm | Comment

You forget to switch your Japanese font.

April 11, 2005 @ 11:40 pm | Comment

Well, JR I like Japanese font, but the point is, the Chinese government does share a responsibility about the continual promotion of what happened so long ago in its media, its films, its books. Again, I am not disputing what actually happened, but there is a sense of hatred, and that, JR, is shameless, promoted and encouraged in the Chinese school system and embellished here in your motherland. But, wait, don’t let me stop you from hurling your usual vindictive criticisms upon someone with a view different from yours or the rest of the collective.
Uh, by the way, I am not Japanese, and I do live here in China, but then again, I am a foreigner. Inculcating hatred here in China has always been promoted, and one that doesn’t seem to go away with this one issue–even if I do leave the building.

April 12, 2005 @ 12:12 am | Comment

Your fly’s open.

April 12, 2005 @ 12:15 am | Comment

“Well, JR I like Japanese font, but the point is, the Chinese government does share a responsibility about the continual promotion of what happened so long ago in its media, its films, its books.”

What films and books are you talking about?

“there is a sense of hatred, and that, JR, is shameless, promoted and encouraged in the Chinese school system and embellished here in your motherland.”

You sound like you know a lot about China, please give us more detailed examples and links.

” if I do leave the building. ”

Don’t let the door hit you on your backside, elvis, we will always miss you.

“Your fly’s open.”

Is that too irresistable to you?


April 12, 2005 @ 12:31 am | Comment


Please come back to the building, I would like to sincerely learn more about the school system, hate films and books made by the CCP government.

The film part would make an interesting discussion especially.

April 12, 2005 @ 1:19 am | Comment

Elvis: the Chinese government does share a responsibility about the continual promotion of what happened so long ago in its media, its films, its books

What films are you talking about? I don’t think there has been very many Chinese movies made about WWII in the past couple of decades, at least not many widely known and shown films. I’m willing to bet that the average Chinese has seen more movies about the Holocaust in the last 10 years than movies about the war in China.

April 12, 2005 @ 1:51 am | Comment

The recent rise in anti-Japanese sentiment among many Chinese mainlanders reached new heights last weekend with the staging of a number of anti-Japanese street demonstrations, some of which attracted crowds of up to 10,000 people – even here in Shenzhen, where I live.

While most demonstrators protested peacefully, in Beijing and Chengdu, significant numbers were reported to have turned violent, vandalising Japanese shops and restaurants with bricks.

The rise in anti-Japanese sentiment on the Chinese mainland has been largely facilitated by the internet. Over the last few years, the number of Chinese run anti-Japanese websites has mushroomed. While such hate-mongering is a feature of extremist internet chat-rooms around the world, in China xenophobia towards the Japanese appears to be on the increase. In the past two years, small anti-Japanese protests have mushroomed into nationwide campaigns through the internet, as last weekend’s demonstrations have shown.

This alarming phenomenon raises a few fundamental questions. Why does the need to attach to and worship an omnipotent object require scapegoating? And why is nationalism always bound up with the necessity for an “enemy?”

Where human beings imagine a nation – an omnipotent, benevolent entity that is to be honoured, embraced and loved – they also bring into being through their imaginations an “enemy.” The enemy also is an omnipotent entity, but now a malevolent one. Just as the idea of the devil sustains the idea of god, so does the idea of the enemy sustain the idea of the nation. The enemy is our split off hostility, our own wish to abandon the object which we love and to which we have submitted.

Love of one’s nation and hatred of the enemy are two sides of the same coin. In order to love Germany unreservedly, Hitler needed to create a Jew. In order to love imperial America so enthusiastically and loyally, all post World War II administrations relied on Cold War enemies, and now that such enemies no longer exist, Americans have the so-called “Axis of Evil” to combat, along with the handful of identifiable “terrorists” that such states are said to support. In Australia and Britain these days, we are threatened by the queue-jumper – the uninvited asylum-seeker.

What are the dynamics of this mechanism that requires hatred (and destruction) in order to sustain love, I wonder?

I suspect that the splitting mechanism described above grows out of a widespread ambivalence towards the nation state. In order for people to maintain an attachment to their country (or culture), and to be able to go on believing in its absolute goodness, they have to have another place to locate their hostility.

People need to split off their perception that the country that they love is also bad and destructive, in addition to being good. The “other” is the place into which they project the destructiveness that has its source in their own nation. This is little different to the way that individuals often deflect their own feelings of self-hatred onto others – usually onto those around them, on those they love the most.

The German nation and its leaders were responsible for the deaths of over two million German soldiers in the First World War. Hitler was there at the Western front. He saw his comrades continually being blown to bits. He witnessed the endless mutilation of their bodies. He was well acquainted with the horror and destructiveness of war. He could not help but know that his fellow soldiers were being sent to their deaths by his own society and its leaders.

Yet – and this fact is the source of everything that was to follow – Hitler never (consciously) could blame or express hatred towards his own nation. He would state in Mein Kampf that, in spite of what had occurred in the war, nevertheless it would have been a “sin to complain.” After all, were the soldiers not “dying for Germany?”

Hitler’s wish to maintain belief in the “goodness” of Germany, his refusal to acknowledge the badness contained within his own nation, caused him to repress or deny hostility. In order to maintain trust in Germany, Hitler projected the source of the nation’s suffering, the cause of its destruction, onto the Jew. The Jews symbolised split off hostility toward Germany, Hitler’s own wish to separate from, to abandon the hegemonic project (which oppressed him just as it oppressed everyone else).

One of the dynamics of today’s Western culture is that hostility toward the nation, recognition of its destructiveness or imperfection, is split off and localised within intellectuals or academics. Within the arena of public life and debate, there is little criticism of the nation and its leaders. In the academic sphere, on the other hand, criticism of and hostility toward the nation are common.

Split off ambivalence is projected onto a particular class of persons, the intellectuals or “academics” who function to express hostility and skepticism toward the otherwise beloved nation. This class of persons “contains” the ambivalence experienced by everyone, permitting hostility to be repressed or disavowed by the majority culture.

Thus, the wish to attach to an omnipotent object and to disconnect from it, love and hatred for one’s nation and its people, the desire to identify and to abandon identification, are contained within a single cultural dynamic or system.

The “war movement” and the “peace movement” go hand in hand. Each constitutes one element of a single dynamic or system. Whenever a war occurs, a “peace movement” is required so that persons have a place into which they can split off the repressed perception that war is destructive and pathological. Peace movements are part of war movements.

Now that the Cold War is over, and China now a part of the global capitalist system, Japan, for historical reasons, has emerged as the new enemy. The Chinese media, of course, must shoulder a considerable amount of the blame, in the same way that the Australian media must shoulder much of the blame for manipulating public emotions over the asylum-seeker issue and the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

The impression that most Chinese and Koreans have, thanks to inaccurate and emotionally-charged reporting, is that the controversial text in question is mandatory. It is not. Most Japanese teachers would protest any moves to make it mandatory. Let us get a few facts straight about this textbook issue:

It is true that Japanese textbooks are screened by the government. Each public and private school selects one history textbook from a list of seven or eight authorised by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Monbukagakusho) every four years. This screening process lasts one year. Japanese textbook companies submit manuscripts to the Ministry of Education, whose appointed committees examine them according to prescribed criteria. The Ministry offers the textbook companies opportunities to revise their drafts, and copies of the Ministry-approved manuscripts are then available for consideration by the local districts.

The hot issue of how Japanese history is presented in school textbooks dates back to 1965, when Saburo Ienaga, a prominent historian, filed the first of his three lawsuits against the Ministry of Education charging that the process of textbook approval was unconstitutional and illegal. The Ministry had rejected Ienaga’s history textbook because it contained “too many illustrations of the ‘dark side’ of the war, such as an air raid, a city left in ruins by the atomic bomb, and disabled veterans.”

Then, in 1982, the screening process in Japan became a diplomatic issue when the media of Japan and neighbouring countries extensively covered changes required by the Ministry of Education. The Ministry had ordered Ienaga to remove critical language in his history textbook, insisting that he write of the Japanese army’s “advance into” China instead of its “aggression in” China and of “uprising among the Korean people” instead of the “March First Independence Movement.” Pressure applied by China and Korea succeeded in getting the Ministry to back down and resulted in the Ministry adding a new authorisation criterion: that textbooks must show understanding and international harmony in their treatment of modern and contemporary historical events involving neighbouring Asian countries. The Supreme Court of Japan unanimously upheld the Ministry’s right to continue screening textbooks though, so Saburo Ienaga and his fellow critics enjoyed only a partial victory – but an important one nevertheless.

Now what followed from this was a backlash by the more chauvinistic – the more pathologically nationalistic. It is little different really from the backlash that occurred in Australia in response to the way textbooks were dealing with the past. Historians like Henry Reynolds along with journalists like John Pilger had helped to bring about an entire sea shift in attitudes about Australia’s past: the land had been stolen, the original inhabitants almost decimated. What had occurred was nothing less than genocide. But then an election occurred, and a new government came to power, whose leader, the present Prime Minister, attacked this view, this new openness and honesty, labelling it the “back armband view of history.”

The same backlash occurred in Japan over the way the nation’s history was being presented. A conservative movement toward reform in the Japanese history curriculum was initiated in the early 1990s by Nobukatsu Fujioka and his Liberal View of History Study Group. Fujioka, a professor of education at Tokyo University, set out to “correct history” by emphasising a “positive view” of Japan’s past and removing from textbooks any reference to matters associated with what he calls “dark history.”

By early 2000 Fujioka and his group had joined with others to form the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, now headed by Kanji Nishio. It is the Society’s textbook, THE NEW HISTORY TEXTBOOK (one of eight junior high school history textbooks authorised by the Ministry of Education in April 2001), that has caused much debate in Japan over the past few years.

Widespread protests against the textbook erupted in Japan itself, as well as in China and North and South Korea. In December 2000, reacting to a draft textbook circulated by the Society and shown on national television, a long list of Japanese historians and history educators expressed misgivings about the content of THE NEW HISTORY TEXTBOOK and its rendering of Japan’s past. Their complaints centred around the text’s presentation of Japan’s foundation myths as historical fact and its characterisation of wars launched by modern Japan as wars to liberate Asia.

The intellectuals’ appeal to people inside and outside Japan appeared on the Internet prior to authorisation of the textbook by the Ministry. Following authorisation, their voices were joined by an international group of scholars. They aimed to “ensure that textbooks are consistent with values of peace, justice, and truth.” It declared THE NEW HISTORY TEXTBOOK “unfit as a teaching tool because it negates both the truth about Japan’s record in colonialism and war and the values that will contribute to a just and peaceful Pacific and world community.”

Under the Japanese system, local school authorities determine whether the new textbook is to be used in district classrooms. On August 15, the deadline for school districts to make their selections, Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi reported in The Japan Times that the new textbook had been shunned and that nearly all of Japan’s school districts had rejected it. The current controversy refers to an updated version of the textbook released in 2001. The China Daily, on April 12, did, to its credit, point out the fact that “the book was adopted in 2002 by only about 0.03 per cent of schools following objections from local education boards and teachers.”

Most Japanese teachers are strongly opposed to this kind of revisionism, as are most Japanese people. I know, because I used to live in Japan. In fact, I spent a year teaching at a government high school in Yokosuka.

The Japanese government, like just about all other governments in this world, seeks to distort their nations past and present – and such distortions certainly do need to be challenged. The people of China and Korea are right to protest. American and Australian WWII veterans certainly complain about their treatment in Japanese prisoner of war camps as well, and they too are very sensitive to the way in which Japanese textbooks present their shared histories. What is worrying though, is the way that these protests are very often expressed – not as protests against a specific Japanese government policy, but rather as an expression of hatred for the Japanese, as a collective, as a people.

Anybody who has ever lived in South Korea, and I lived and taught there for two years, will know that Koreans suffer from a kind of collective trauma – their deep-rooted emotional insecurity is a product of the past failings of their imagined community. Rebuilding themselves as an independent nation post Korean War has been fraught with pain and ambiguity. The intense, some might say extreme nationalism of most Koreans (and most Koreans are certainly flag-worshippers) expresses itself also as its flipside: they are oversensitive to any perceived slights against their country or culture, because of their ambivalence and insecurity – emotions which they deflect onto others, like by displacing their anger onto the Japanese for example.

What is needed is some healing, not a heightening of the conflict and aggression so inherently characteristic of all nationalisms. To expose and reveal the shared fantasies that sustain the cultural process is to take the first steps toward awakening from the nightmares of all our shared histories.

Best Regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

April 12, 2005 @ 2:00 am | Comment

I keep watching the video (because it’s the top story on every news station over here) and yeah, the Japanese seem pretty upset about it.

It was weird, seeing hundreds of Chinese marching together, literally flooding the streets to protest, without any government interference. Then I saw them burning the Japanese flag and tearing down Sony signs. It was so disheartening.

April 12, 2005 @ 2:11 am | Comment

Another fair and balanced editorial, this one from a Taiwanese newspaper’s English web site.

Japan’s rising rightism hurts its U.N. ambitions


The resurgence of rightist forces in Japan is unsettling for its neighbors, not the least of which is mainland China. South Korea, another victim of Japan’s militarism during the last world war, is no less concerned.
To most Chinese and Koreans, Japan’s recent revision of history text books that whitewashes the country’s war-time atrocities is outrageous. For example, the Rape of Nanking is omitted from their history books, and the annexation of Korea was justified because “Japan’s independence would have been threatened if the Peninsula had fallen into hostile hands”.

Also, the Mukden Incident in 1931 was caused by “strong anti-Japanese movement” in Manchuria. The Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937 started when “the Chinese side kept shooting at Japanese troops.” Besides, Japanese invaders were depicted as “liberators,” and Japan was a “victim of war.”

No wonder South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun was furious. He declared that his country is prepared to wage a “diplomatic battle” with Japan, even at the expense of the economy. Mainland China was more restrained, saying that Japan should face its history of aggression with honesty and let future generations of Japanese know the truth and learn from history.

Japan has never expressed remorse or repentance for the atrocities it had committed during World War II. Instead, the country has been trying to whitewash them by distorting historical facts. What is more worrisome is the resurgence of nationalistic sentiments and rightist forces that pose a threat to regional stability. Japan’s territorial disputes with China, Korea and Russia are potential flash points. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has kept visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, ignoring the repeated protests of the countries victimized by Japanese aggression.

Already an economic superpower, Japan aspires to become a political superpower as well. It has been striving to be a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. Judging from its enormous economic clout, Japan is eligible for the coveted spot, now occupied only by five former allied powers of the last war-America, Britain, China, France and Russia.

Recently, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have publicly supported Japan’s candidacy for membership in a reformed and expanded Security Council. The mentioning of Japan, however, stirred up instant and spontaneous protests on the Web by millions of Chinese at home and abroad. According to latest media reports, more than 10 million people have gathered online to voice their outrage. The online campaign is spreading. The Wall Street Journal quoted an anti-Japanese activist, Lu Yunfei, as saying that he intends to present a petition of 20 million signatures to the U.N. this summer.

Japan’s unrepentant attitude regarding its war-time crimes is hurting its U.N. ambitions. Beijing holds the veto power on this vital issue. Although the mainland depends heavily on Japan for trade and investment, it cannot afford to ignore the protest of its people. Until and unless the Japanese government changes its attitude and shows repentance, as Germany did so many years ago, Japan’s long march to joint the elite U.N. club may be winding and arduous.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Wen-long Shi’s “retirement statement” last week was a bombshell. The founder and chairman of Chi Mei Group and an ardent supporter of Taiwan’s independence movement made a sudden about face by supporting Beijing’s one China policy.

The 77-year-old billionaire has been known in mainland China as a “green merchant” because of his political stand. Hailing from Tainan, Shi is a senior adviser to President Chen Shui-bian, an exulted sinecure reserved for only a few grandees in political and business circles.

The bombshell came at a very inopportune time, on the eve of President Chen’s call for a million-strong protest on March 26 against the mainland’s enactment of the Anti-Secession Law. Shi’s statement in support of one China stole the thunder of the mass protest. It was a stunning blow at the pan-green camp of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and its pro-independence allies.

Shi’s “retirement statement” says the following in a nutshell: 1. Both Taiwan and the mainland belong to one China; 2. Hu Jintao’s statement on the anti-splittist law is “reassuring,” 3. Direct cross-strait links in trade, investment and transport are good for both sides. 4. Taiwan independence means war and destruction for Taiwan.

You may call him a chameleon if you want to. His self-confession admitted that he was wrong yesterday and he is now a born-again Taiwanese who is “reassured” by President Hu’s recent statement and Beijing’s promulgation of the anti-secession law. By renouncing independence pursuit, Shi says his businesses in China will thrive and prosper.

But don’t blame Shi for his belated epiphany. Jin dynasty poet Tao Qian (372-427AD) had penned some memorable lines on his early retirement: Lucky that I did not miss my way too far/I have found yesterday’s wrong and today is right~. The two men, two millennia apart, seemed to share the same thoughts on retirement, when they found their true selves.

April 12, 2005 @ 4:28 am | Comment

Let’s not forget that China is a country led by a ruthless blood-stained clique of gangster-despots currently in brutal military occupation of 2 million square miles of other people’s land.

Are these people the kind who would really get upset about a barely-used foreign textbook? Of course not.

And I’d guess the CCP’s top levels don’t care about World War II either, because they’re masters of their destiny, not people who live in the past.

But they are aware of how many stupid, easily-manipulated losers there are in the cities of China, who will riot on the slightest pretext, and self-styled intellectuals who will write seriously about this stuff.

Underlying, probably the CCP sees Japan as a proxy of the US these days, and this is just a minor part of a major political realignment, of which the recent rapproachment with India is another part.

Don’t concentrate on the trees. See the forest.

April 12, 2005 @ 7:06 am | Comment

“Japan may be seriously at fault when it comes to atoning for its sins of 60 years ago, but in terms of diplomatic skills, they win points for taking what appears to be a rational approach. (Again, in terms of diplomacy, not necessarily in terms of doing what’s right.)”

Are we getting a little off track?

April 12, 2005 @ 8:41 am | Comment

oh and the ccp runs south korea as well?

April 12, 2005 @ 8:44 am | Comment

Not at all, Mark – this is an important point about the face China shows the world. The face it shows right now could use some polish, its voice could use some subtlety.

April 12, 2005 @ 9:05 am | Comment

Personally, I like what the Economist pointed out (especially since in a previous thread somebody asked how Jews would feel if Germany had textbooks denying the Holocaust). They noted that after 1945 a Franco-German history textbook commission started work on a common history.

So why not Japan, Korea and China?

Well, Korea and Japan have gotten started.

Hmmm… what could possibly prevent China from engaging in similar talks… could it be the fact that a joint textbook would mean somebody outside China getting to comment on their history books? And Japan of all countries…

April 12, 2005 @ 1:19 pm | Comment

Washington has done the right thing and spoken out against the Japanese whitewashing of their textbookS.

“Last week, the U.S. Department of State said that it was aware of the situation following Tokyoโ€™s approval of history textbooks which further distorted Japanโ€™s war crimes. It is the first time that the U.S. has formally expressed its apprehension about Tokyoโ€™s distortions of historical facts.”

Tokyo’s Image Plunges
Distorted Historical Facts Should Be Corrected

Japanโ€™s distortions of its wartime atrocities in Korea, China and other Asian countries have become the target of global criticism and apprehension. It is expected to spoil Tokyoโ€™s bid to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.
The United States opposed setting a timetable for a reform of the United Nations because of conflicting opinions among U.N. members. The U.S. decision deals a severe blow to Japanโ€™s attempt to win permanent status in the U.N. governing body in November. Even though the decision has no direct relations with Japanโ€™s distortions of historical facts, Washington has shown concern about rising protests from South Korea and China. Last week, the U.S. Department of State said that it was aware of the situation following Tokyoโ€™s approval of history textbooks which further distorted Japanโ€™s war crimes. It is the first time that the U.S. has formally expressed its apprehension about Tokyoโ€™s distortions of historical facts.

The expression reveals Washingtonโ€™s concerns about rising conflicts that Seoul and Beijing both have with Tokyo. The U.S. has concentrated its efforts on building up alliances with Japan in order to cope with the rapidly growing power of China in Asia. Consequently, the U.S. has not paid heed to what Korea, China and other Asian countries had suffered from the hands of imperial Japanese military.

The U.S. ought to try to mediate the conflict involving the three Asian neighbors with a balanced view.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan recently called upon Japan to sincerely repent its wartime atrocities and win back the trust of its neighbors before the realization of its bid to win a permanent seat in the Security Council.

Tokyoโ€™s justification and even glorification of its past aggression led by ultra-rightist groups has touched off a spate of anti-Japanese sentiments in South Korea and China as well as enhanced their nationalism. In particular, Chinese demonstrations against Japan are feared to disturb stability in the region. Seoul and Beijing have already declared their objection to Tokyoโ€™s bid to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. They are also supported by over 70 of the U.N. members, including Russia.

We sincerely urge Japan to put an end to its retrogressive and narrow-minded approaches toward its past and look back at it with the eyes of its Asian neighbors and the rest of the international community.

04-11-2005 16:02

(thanks Dave for the link)

April 12, 2005 @ 3:28 pm | Comment

It’s good that they’ve spoken out. The revision of history books is despicable and no one I know defends it.

April 12, 2005 @ 5:16 pm | Comment

How easily people on this thread are able to advise the Chinese to “let bygones be bygones”. I guess it’s not your grandparents generation who were raped, eviscerated, used for bayonet practice while still alive or just massacred en masse by the Japanese. How dare we stand in the way of economic progress by not forgiving and forgetting?

Look, I am a Chinese American, and in no good position to evaluate how Japanese children are being educated. All I know is, the Japanese people I come in contact with (yes, I have Japanese friends) are woefully ignorant and insensitive when it comes to WWII. More likely to whine about how other Asian countries are still “Japan bashing” after all these years than to acknowledge that their forebears killed, raped, tortured their neighbors en masse, and that such behavior is wrong. Having a master-race mentality and treating other human beings like animals is wrong.

Look, I’m not condoning the random destruction of Japanese property or injuring of Japanese citizens. Far from it. Such displays are immature and hateful. But the rage comes from somewhere. Please don’t try and belittle it if you don’t understand. If you’ve read Iris Chang’s “The Rape of Nanking” or saw Zhang Yimou’s “Red Sorgum”, and can still say that Chinese anger is merely an expression of petty victimization, I don’t know what to say to you. Maybe you can get on Stephen Spielburg’s ass next and complain that Schindler’s List simply put salt on old wounds unnecessarily.

I believe in the future. I believe all children are innocent. I have no desire for my people to carry on a vendetta with the Japanese people. But I also believe that in order for us to move on the historical wounds between cultures have to be healed. Yes, time does that. But what helps is acknowledgement of past wrongs on one side and openhearted forgiveness on the other. Denial on the one side and hatred on the other will poison the future.

April 12, 2005 @ 6:17 pm | Comment

Panda, there has been constant criticism on Japan here — there is absolutely no question how evil, sadistic, inhumane and inhuman Japanese atrocities were. That doesn’t change the fact that this justified rage has been revived and perverted, channled into a weird cult, a cottage industry of Japan hatred, where young men devote their entire lives to ranting insults and obscenities at the Japanese. I remember the picture of the baby in the Shanghai railroad and have read many books on what the Japanese did. If I had been there as a US soldier at the time, I would have had no problem shooting as many as I could. It’s not really about letting bygones be bygones. It’s about growing up and protesting in a manner that is meaningful and leads to some result other than making the crisis even worse. Do you think it’s okay for this to go one forever, spiralling ever upward, the hate becoming ever more intense. Some have said all they want is for Japan to apologize “sincerely.” But that’s subjective, and I don’t believe there is anything Japan could do that would satisfy this demand, becuase they have already been judged as insincere. Not that they don’t deserve it — their revision of textbooks proves they are not ready to be fully upfront about their crimes, despite their numerous apologies since 1965. So be mad about it and demand change, but don’t appear out of control and deranged.

April 12, 2005 @ 7:12 pm | Comment

Richard, those are wise words. I have no patience for the idiots who are smashing windows and hurting people. But I’m frustrated that many people in the west (not you) are simply dismissing the need for Japan to come to terms with their past. This provides support for a position that is as bad as holocaust denial.

There has been a slow but steady shift to the right in Japan. Koizumi has been visiting that shrine for 6 years. More and more ultranationalistic books have been coming out. Their young people might “know” that people were killed in an incident in Nanking, but they never internalize that it was a terrible wrong. Meanwhile, the world just doesn’t understand while us Chinese are being so emotional.

Yeah, that’s Chinese people for you. When we’re not busy being inscrutible, we’re emotional.

April 12, 2005 @ 7:55 pm | Comment

I am sad to say that there has been a shift to the right practically everywhere. As in America, we have to demand accountability and keep the pressure on, but violence is the worst possible course.

April 12, 2005 @ 8:36 pm | Comment

I tend to be willing to “let bygones be bygones” – for both the japanese invasion and for Tibet. While it may not be a morally equivalent case, I think there’s also a lot of distortion of history about Tibet. If the Chinese want to put the Japanese invasion back on the table, they should be willing to put the history of Tibet back too.

I’m european. I have nothing to do wit hthis stuff. So if I’m willing to look over Tibet, why shouldn’t I also look over the Japanese invastion ?

April 12, 2005 @ 8:37 pm | Comment

JR, I’m glad you found that article on US disapproval of the NHT, but that wasn’t why I was visiting I was trying to point out that there should be a joint effort on a common history, and that Korea and Japan appear to be moving in this direction. I don’t think the same can be said of China. In Japan, plenty of people are aware of the accusation that the NHT is distorting Japan’s war record and plenty of them agree it’s wrong.

How many regular people in China think their textbooks distort history? Nearly zero, by my reckoning. Mark Anthony Jones, in another thread, mentions revisions that upset the Koreans (Chinese history regarding the Shilla and Kojosun kingdoms), not to mention the denial of the KMT’s pivotal role in fighting the Japanese (as mentioned in ESWN’s excerpt from Liu Xiaobo), not to mention downplaying US involvement, the overlooking of the Vietnam invasion and support of Pol Pot, the participation of China in the Korean War, and I haven’t even gotten yet to the GLF, the Chaos or Mao himself. To consider a joint textbook program, which is the only way these things have successfully been settled in general (short of completely ignoring what the other guy is doing), would mean China would have to clue the entire country into just how duped they’ve been.

The only way to resolve this will be if everyone can sit down and have a long, frank, emotionally taxing dialogue about history and truth. Though flawed (like any country), Japan and Korea seem far better equipped for such reconciliation. I don’t think China could engage in such talks without tearing the country apart, and that breaks my heart.

April 13, 2005 @ 3:17 am | Comment


There is actually an joint effort amongst China, Korea and Japan to create a new supplimentary textbooks for Japan. It had been discussed extensively in here before in an earlier thread. You can probably find more informations online.

“How many regular people in China think their textbooks distort history? Nearly zero, by my reckoning. Mark Anthony Jones, in another thread, mentions revisions that upset the Koreans (Chinese history regarding the Shilla and Kojosun kingdoms), not to mention the denial of the KMT’s pivotal role in fighting the Japanese (as mentioned in ESWN’s excerpt from Liu Xiaobo), not to mention downplaying US involvement, the overlooking of the Vietnam invasion and support of Pol Pot, the participation of China in the Korean War, and I haven’t even gotten yet to the GLF, the Chaos or Mao himself. To consider a joint textbook program, which is the only way these things have successfully been settled in general (short of completely ignoring what the other guy is doing), would mean China would have to clue the entire country into just how duped they’ve been.”

If we have to play the Pot meets kettle blame game, you can easily find things you don’t learn from the US history textbooks also.

Just to mention a few, the ethnic cleansing of American Indians. Colonization, Forced Christianization of Native Hawaiians, mutiny against legitimate Queen of Hawaii; Refusal to accept Jewish refugees before WW2; The massive war crimes committed during Vietnam war.

The USA supported the military junta in Greece 1967-1974, Overthrow of democracy and installation of puppet Shah in Iran; CIA trained Mujahideen to make heroin from poppies; Support for Pol Pot (yes both China and US supported Pol Pot)

Training of terrorist groups in Latin America; Destruction of democracy in Chile (the other 9/11). Funding, weapons and training for Nicaraguan terrorists; Funding and organization of death squads in El Salvador; Invasion of Panama and Granada; Support of Saddam’s WMD programs in the 1980s…

Anyway, I believe we are all guilty. It is pretty useless to play the blame game against each others. Let’s have an open and honest discussion to right the wrong of the past and move on to the future.

April 13, 2005 @ 5:09 am | Comment

JR, I’m not disputing that the U.S. doesn’t have some history that doesn’t get enough fresh air. I agree with your entire dirty laundry list of U.S. history that gets swept under the carpet and I can add a few of my own to it too, since it is such an unbelievably long list.

But you point out exactly what the difference is between the U.S. dirty laundry list and the Chinese one:

If we have to play the Pot meets kettle blame game, you can easily find things you don’t learn from the US history textbooks also.

Exactly right. EASILY find things. In the U.S., you can find books, news articles, entire academic departments, private organizations, Congressional committees, government reports available through the Freedom of Information Act and all that for every issue you just mentioned. No, they’re not in most history books (but they are out there, especially in university), and they should be. But that’s not what I’m talking about; I’m not talking about comparing textbooks. I’m talking about access to historical debate. China doesn’t allow books criticizing those historical events I mentioned. Academic departments are sanitized. There are no Party investigations like Senate hearings. There is no FOIA.

Can Christopher Hitchens write books and articles demanding Kissinger be tried as a war criminal for his roles in places like Chile and East Timor without threat of house arrest? Damn straight he can. Can any Chinese person on the Mainland write that Party members should be punished and jailed for Tiananmen without fear of retribution? Nope.

The Party has relentlessly pushed a distorted history to argue they are infallible. Most Chinese people seem to believe it. A far, far lesser percentage of Americans think their country is infallible, and, more importantly, we haven’t had the same Party lead us for 60 years. While our Dems and Repubs are both messed up, the system is predicated on the belief that they ARE fallible. Most of my students appear to believe that the Party is infallible, that their books could never be wrong. I’ve had them express total confusion at the idea of a political system that involves constant arguing and battling. When asked to describe the American Way, I’ve in fact said just that: arguing. Often stupid arguments, but arguments nonetheless.

So if tomorrow every American textbook had detailed descriptions of every heinous thing our various governments have done, it’d be a major bummer for Americans, but I don’t think they’d storm Washington. If tomorrow, the same happened to Chinese textbooks, the worldview of most Chinese people would be completely destroyed, and Beijing would be in serious jeopardy. Likewise in Japan, there is an open battle between the right wingers and their opponents over the appropriateness of the NHT. It is debated on TV, in the newspapers, in the schools. The Japanese teachers union has practically engaged them in hand-to-hand combat. That kind of debate is healthy, it can vaccinate a society against sudden outbursts of chaos. But China hasn’t been getting it’s booster shots, because anytime there could be a debate, SQUELCH. Hello, Publicity Ministry.

You say we shouldn’t play the blame game and have an open and honest discussion. I think that’s what China and Japan should have to try and reach a common history. The problem is that China can’t do it without going into a political and social meltdown, and that makes me extremely sad. I don’t see how Chinese people can have any real access to the truth without it causing a massive revolution against the Party. That could mean a bloodbath, and I don’t want to see that happen to China. So I’m in a bind; I want China to become open and honest with it’s own people because it will become stronger… but I’m afraid that the shock to the system will be too great.

No country is perfect at having open debate. Japan and the U.S. screw it up all the time. But they’ve got alot more going on than China, and it is a matter of degrees.

April 13, 2005 @ 5:49 am | Comment


You are leading the direction of this conversation. There is definitely no debate about the historical and political openness (closeness) of the CCP. If we are to drop our prejudice and discuss these issues in an open and honest manner. I can also easily think of a list of things I don’t like about the Communist China.

1)Corruption, the Chinese government seriously needs political reforms, judicial reforms, and especially implementing the rule of law, not special relationship.

2) Two China, rich urban area vs poor rural area, the Chinese government needs to spend more resources to help develop the rural western area and take care of the majority population of poor farmers, not just emphasizing on urban development.

3) Pollutions, time to put this into the number 1 priority. I know It is already going out of control.

4) Freedom of speech, China needs independent news outlets and to do away with censorship. it’s one of the most powerful tools in combating corruption.

5) freedom of religion.

The political future of China as a CCP expert from Hong Kong had said last month, there will be political freedom, liberty and democracy in China within the next 20 years. I don’t know if he is right or wrong, but I am cautiously optimistic

April 13, 2005 @ 10:33 pm | Comment

Need to Solve the Problem at Some Point

It is very hard for me, a Japanese national, to argue about the recent Chinese anti-Japanese movements. The recent demonstrations in China caught international attention; we see the foreign press and online bloggers report and analyze the situation at …

April 16, 2005 @ 1:11 am | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.