Government-organized protest?

A great article by Robert Marquand on the China-Japan tensions provides lots of food for thought.

Beijing is widely thought to have tacitly supported the protests. Yet popular anger against Japan is so raw that it takes little effort to spark….

Not since 1985, when the then Japanese prime minister visited the Yasukuni Shrine, has Beijing allowed such a demonstration.

While described as a spontaneous rally, the organized nature of the Saturday protest seemed apparent to some observers. Areas for press, protesters, and riot police were taped off. Movement was carefully organized: crowds were sent past the Japanese Embassy, then to buses to usher them out. One policeman told an approaching reporter that a detour was necessary, since “political activity” had been scheduled….

Protesters were not only allowed to hurl objects, but police in some cases helped create space for them to do so. During the most intense period, city police around the Polish Embassy were seen chatting and sharing takeout foo

Read the whole thing, because the reporter has some astute observation not only on the obvious government encouragement, but also about why this situation is causing so much anxiety in Asia and the US.

There are things to criticize about all the players here – Japan, China and Korea. But, he points out, we know Japan and Korea, while America still feels it doesn’t truly know China. Is it a military threat? An ally? Are they getting closer to democracy? Are they authoritarian? Are they imperialiastic? Are they still capable of Cultural Revolution-style mass violence? The demonstrations bring these questions to the forefront and reawaken Americans’ intrinsic ignorance and fear of China, and make our leaders wonder about what our relationship with China should be.

So I stick to my key point: No matter how justified the hatred of Japan is, the reaction this past week was a net negative for China in virtually every way. Maybe it felt good at the moment, but it accomplished nothing of any value to China, and in fact only hurt the country.

The Discussion: 45 Comments

What does knowing Japan and Korea mean? Does the US need military bases inside China in order to know China?

The US – China relationship has always been borderline hostile. From my (a Chinese) perspective, mainly due to the fact that the US rightly sees China as a threat to its dominant position in the world. This is the same threat that was perceived from USSR during the “cold war.” US politicians use human and political rights as a front to limit Chinese influence, but their goal has always been about containment (similar to policy towards USSR).

This is why these demonstrations has all of a sudden turned into an American issue, and not much to do with Japanese attrocities and Japanese encroaching nationalistic behavior.

April 10, 2005 @ 5:20 pm | Comment

What does knowing Japan and Korea mean? Does the US need military bases inside China in order to know China?

America is very secure in its relations with Japan and Korea, as we are with Thailand and Singapore and Norway (to name a few); military bases have nothing to do with it. We have clear, unambiguous relationships with Japan and Korea and all sane Americanbs see them as strong allies, despite occasional friction.

But China is in a most unique position. America has never before felt so ambivalent about China, especially with the lunatics in power (in America) getting their talking points from the Heritage Foundation. The US depends on China in more ways than one, yet also harbors intense distrust, some quite irrational, some less irrational. I believe most Americans would tell you they aren’t quite certain whether China is our friend or enemy. In other words, they do not know China. This is the point the reporter makes, and I believe he is correct.

April 10, 2005 @ 5:31 pm | Comment

My girlfriend (from Hong Kong) has been on a load of Chinese chat boards and says that most people in Hong Kong seem to support the torching of cars, etc., and accused her of licking the boots of the Japanese, and so on, when she said this behaviour was uncivilized.

Chinese students in Beijing are saying they will beat up any Japanese students they see in the street. It’s a pogram, and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone gets killed.

April 10, 2005 @ 5:51 pm | Comment

Xinhua news story on Chinese embassy in Hanoi openly pays tribute to 1,400 fallen Chinese soldiers in Vietnam war against ‘US aggression’: China martyrs tomb in Vietnam

Out of the blue? I don’t think so. The government now reminds its subjects who their ultimate enemy is, again.

Maybe this time Heritage Foundation is not as wrong as you might have believed. The administration’s policy is totally wrong, you are right.

April 10, 2005 @ 5:53 pm | Comment

“it accomplished nothing of any value to China, and in fact only hurt the country.”

Violence looks bad. However, I will think this widely reported demonstration is not bad at all.

In the eyes of Americans, chinese government is an evil communist governement. Therefore it really can not get any worse. Chinese people are typically docile people without much temper. The demonstration tells people that chinese nationalism can not be ignored in some sensitive topics, from Japan textbook for Taiwan issue.

Unlike holocaust is being re-played again and again in western media, the atrocity by Japanese and their attitude toward those crime is seldomly critically reviewed. This demonstration could put some spotlight on that.

According to the article you quoted, China has billateral relationship with most neighbours except for Japan; Japan has problem with all its neighbours.

That is a pretty good summary.

April 10, 2005 @ 5:55 pm | Comment

Well, even in Japan, a strong minority of people are against the US Okinawa military base, so you can hardly call American presence in Japan as “very secure.” Let’s not even talk about South Korea. Where people there see American presence as an obstacle against eventual re-unification with the north. Americans are in these countries for selfish reasons, and nothing more. Its alliance sways with the wind, e.g. Saddam and Manuel ๐Ÿ™‚

April 10, 2005 @ 5:58 pm | Comment

China has billateral relationship with most neighbours except for Japan;

Didn’t your schoolbook tell you that China has territorial disputes with most of its neighbors? Even with North Korea. Another nice summary?

April 10, 2005 @ 5:58 pm | Comment

A close friend (Chinese) of mine are currently on a business trip in Japan, and I asked him to take photos of hanami (Japanese sukura season). his response:

Not only pics but I have a lot of videos as well. I am in Yokohama after one week meeting in Nayoga, and had a very nice tour of Sukura season.

In Japan, people are very much enjoying the life and I am very surprised to see so many friendly people there love to learn Chinese, despite the growing hostility between
the two great countries in Asia.

That speaks well about the two peoples. Keep going, Japanese people.

April 10, 2005 @ 6:08 pm | Comment

Bellevue,

China used to have territory disputes with all of its neighbours. But in recent years, china has made extraordinary effort and peacefully solved most territory disputes. The last large one is with india and is well on track to be solved.

I know you hate CCP very very much. Well, you got to admit, CCP has been doing many many things smoothly and brilliantly. They have managed a difficult situation exceptionally well.

I do not totally agree with CCP on how to manage the relationship with Japan. But I think we should not give Japan a free pass on whitewash past crime and gain a UN security seat.

April 10, 2005 @ 6:11 pm | Comment

“My girlfriend (from Hong Kong) has been on a load of Chinese chat boards and says that most people in Hong Kong seem to support the torching of cars, etc., and accused her of licking the boots of the Japanese, and so on, when she said this behaviour was uncivilized.

Chinese students in Beijing are saying they will beat up any Japanese students they see in the street. It’s a pogram, and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone gets killed.

Posted by Harry Hutton at April 10, 2005 05:51 PM ”

Harry Hutton,

Ask your girlfriend to link some of these HK chat boards to here please, I would like to see what Hong Kong people have to say about this.
Thank you

April 10, 2005 @ 6:16 pm | Comment

Steve:

You are right on their shrewdness. Currently Wen Jiabao is in India and his primary goal is to solve what left behind after 1961 war. They now know they can’t afford to make enemies of all the states all time. Even Japan is not their strategic target.

You forget to mention why they are doing this, somehow – to focus on the primary and ultimate enemy, the United States of America.

April 10, 2005 @ 6:16 pm | Comment

Bellevue,

CCP is more than willing to kiss US ass if they are given a chance to do it with diginity. It is US that is hostile to China not the other way around.

The sticking issue is Taiwan. I can not understand why no one realize that, the best and quickest way to lead to CCP collapse is to let Taiwan to be part of China. After Taiwan agrees to be part of China, all spotlight will be on CCP’s legitmacy and the contrast in two kinds of systems.

For US strategical insterest, its goal should be a democratic China friendly with US. Supporting Taiwan independence is a sure way to achieve the opposite result.

April 10, 2005 @ 6:37 pm | Comment

Bellevue, I believe the “territorial” dispute with North Korea is more of a cultural “Goguryo” dispute. No one except the radical nationalist Korean fringe claims any territory north of the present nK border, but both Koreas have protested China’s treatment of “Goguryo”, whose territory extended into Manchuria and today’s Russian Far East, as a proto-Chinese state. Also, thanks for the reference on the China “martyrs” tomb. We always believed that we’d killed some Chinese advisors at Duc Lap in 1968, but the PAVN used to deny that it had Chinese combat advisors. Some were also reportedly killed during the Son Tay raid.

April 10, 2005 @ 7:09 pm | Comment

Anti-Japan riots in China

The anti-Japan riots in China over the weekend are an indication of both the depths of feeling amongst the Chinese public and the difficulty the Chinese Government is having in putting a lid on the nationalist frenzy it has whipped up. Ironically Japan…

April 10, 2005 @ 8:12 pm | Comment

Back to the protests/riots topic, I have a personal theory (I know, “pass the tinfoil”). Most of the Chinese capacity for rage has been channeled into a nationalistic fervor, rather than acting out toward each other or the government. Thus, there’s not often a convenient outlet for it.

This is a test to see how much of it can be whipped up/focused/controlled on cue.

April 10, 2005 @ 8:31 pm | Comment

I’m with you on this one Sam.

Sorry everyone, I need to go out to dinner. Busy day for comments.

April 10, 2005 @ 8:34 pm | Comment

I just got back from travelling in China and an unusual thing I noticed from watching the TV news there is that they never seemed to report any of the anti-Japanese demonstrations happening in China but they extensively covered the anti-Japanese protests in Korea with lots of inflammatory shots of Koreans burning effigies of Koizumi, cutting off their own fingers in protest, etc.

April 10, 2005 @ 9:30 pm | Comment

I am having mixed feelings about the thoughts being tossed around here, especially the idea that the strategic objective of China’s Japan bashing (absoluely no doubt it is promoted and organized by BJ or the CCP) is the US. If America is China’s enemy, then America’s leaders and the industrialist, the plane makers, the auto manufacturers, investors and consumers need to withdraw from China, now. I think cheap labor is abundantly available in places like Bangaladesh, India, Cambodia, the Phillippines and in many other countries. America could immensely help Africa’s intractable problems by investing in its millions of potential laborers by providing education and jobs.

Americans can make do for a while, stop its pathological buying habits and save money to make America stronger fiscally and tackle the balance of payments problem. I think it is a mistake to just buy “China made” because they are the cheapest.

The one thing that has for a long time bother me about the Chinese is that they think Americans are “dumb”. I think the reason has something to do with the kindness individual Americans have shown the Chinese over the past several hundred years (to be sure not all of America’s involvement with China in that time was positive) and the genuine courtesy Americana can show to other peoples, such as not being consistently rude in conversations, not being rude by busting into waiting lines for tickets say, that is, waiting your turn, and not lying and cheating to get what you want which is endemic to China. Small things perhaps, but definte indicators of mental attitudes and outlook.

One thing about the West’s battle with the old USSR and Communism was that for many the battle was over a system that was believed could change the way the world was and make it more fair, (never mind that it was a flawed system). A real reason to fight America and the capitalist system. However, now having abandoned the peasants and embraced Chinese capitalism and using the so-called Chinese Communist Party to maintain an imperial style control over the country, China has no such ideals it is promoting for the betterment of the world. It is promoting itself and perhaps “peace” for the betterment of the China not the world. Theoretically, two decidedly different purposes. one could and did capture the imagination of millions of people in countries all around the world and the other is a narrow, self-centered effort perhaps to dominate with absolutely no redeaming value.

I think China needs to watch what it is doing, it is not entitled to demand respect and position in the world without earning it. As I told a good friend of mine in the US several years ago after China cried and complained endlessly about losing the 2000 Olympics to Sydney, China needs some good smacks to the face and nose bleeds every now and then, if it thinks it can bully its way round and not take its turn.

China is vulerable to the type of consumer boycott this latest protest is trying to stir up against Japan. I for one could buy better made products made in Japan if it came to take.

April 10, 2005 @ 11:05 pm | Comment

last word is “that”. The finder don’t do what the brain says, sorry.

April 10, 2005 @ 11:06 pm | Comment

Shit. Did it again, that is, “finger”

April 10, 2005 @ 11:14 pm | Comment

F-word on anti-Japan banner:

http://news.wenxuecity.com/BBSView.php?SubID=news&MsgID=26424

April 11, 2005 @ 12:54 am | Comment

Lirelou:

Besides the Goguryo saga, China and DPRK also have some more specific dispute, over tian1 chi2 (or chunji, a volcanic lake) and Yongbyon area. A unified Korea would certainly raise the issue with more noise.

April 11, 2005 @ 1:01 am | Comment

More interesting photos:

Japanese pig

Guangzhou: The Chinese characters read: Nanjing (massacre) awaits retaliation, Tokyo must be massacred!

April 11, 2005 @ 1:59 am | Comment

From the Chinese point of view, they have recently seen the US trying to stitch up an alliance along with Japan and Taiwan to counter China’s growing power. The US is also moving a whole new division of troops to Japan. I think these protests are a hint from the Chinese leadership about the kind of popular feeling they can tap into should the need arise. They’re saying don’t mess with us.

April 11, 2005 @ 2:43 am | Comment

“I think the reason has something to do with the kindness individual Americans have shown the Chinese over the past several hundred years”

Do tell Pete, which individuals are you referring to and which hundreds of years has America even had a relationship with China? My reading of your text was a half-assed and self-serving elogy of America interspersed with some non-sequitors about Chinese cutting in line. Lets see, America’s relationship with China inexplicably begins with the 20th century starting with imperialism. Gee Golley thanks America! Then was the pre-ww2 years when American sentiment actually favoured Japan’s invasion of China. Nothing says kindness more than rooting for your enemies! Of course then those dastardly japs had to threaten America’s interests in the Pacific by getting to big for their breeches so to speak. Oh Noes, time to roll out the anti-Japanese pro-China propaganda! (I fondly recall the Time magazine cover with a smileing nationalist soldier. Chinese! This man is your friend, he fights for freedom!) Of course after world war 2, China fell to the communist, time for some good old fashioned cold war China-baiting. But wait, the sino-soviet split means that our dear Chinese friends maybe willing to aid us strategically in undermining the Soviet Union. Hooray for China! Sadly there was the Tiananmen incident. Boo China! Then the economic boom of the 90’s. Yay! Then China threat phase of the present administration. Boo!

American attidues towards China have been anything of not dyslexic, yet underneath it all, there is one underlying and continuous trend. America has supporter China when the political powers that be perceived that it served American interests and has opposed China when it felt otherwise. Nothing wrong with this, this is the art of nations and the cold calculations of politics. But then the Americans have to be so absolutely god damn fucking sentimental and insecure in their belief that everyone ( and I mean everyone) has to be grateful to them for everything. I blame cognitive dissonance, the failure to reconcile the myths of their liberal and democratic foundations and aspirations with naked self-interest. Sometimes American idealism and self-interest coincide and are loudly trumpeted and celebrated. Sometimes they don’t, but these are surely isolated incidents which we must never speak of again. Or better yet, they are lies fostered by communists and dirty third world ingrates ungrateful for all that America has done for them.

As for China presently persueing self-interest rather than the agenda of universalist communism. Well good luck to them, communism didn’t work out too well as Americans are fond of reminding. As for China’s developement as a matter of self-interest, this self-interest naturally benefits the lives of 1.3 billion of China’s citizens, well over a fifth(a poorer quintile I might add) of the world’s population. If they can live drastically better lives at the inconvenience of some others, the cold arithmetic of morality would seem to be in their favour. Global domination would only be a coincidental side effect, if not wholely unwelcome, of prosperity of China’s multitudes.

And that dear readers, is my rant of the day.

p.s. eat shit Bellevue

April 11, 2005 @ 4:26 am | Comment

Jing

Try the last 150 to 175 years then.

There were plenty of American Christian missionaries in China providing care and education to Chinese starting in the 19th century. China was required to make reparations payments from the Boxer Rebellion to the Western+Japan powers around 1900. Some of that money paid to the US was set it up into some kind of fund to be used to finance Chinese nationals to go to the US to study. This is to mention a few situations.

Can you support your contention that American sentiment favored Japanese invasion of China?

I guess I hit a few hot buttons with you? I would like you to read my comment again as I think you missed some of my points.

April 11, 2005 @ 7:30 am | Comment

“p.s. eat shit Bellevue”

surprise, jing, big surprise.

i think that kind of words is reserved for somebody else.

April 11, 2005 @ 7:35 am | Comment

Sorry, that should have been “pogrom”.

I’ll ask my girlfriend for the link.

April 11, 2005 @ 9:48 am | Comment

I am going to request we dispense with the obscene remarks, okay guys?

April 11, 2005 @ 11:21 am | Comment

What can I say Bingfeng, I got tired of Bellevue’s trolling, only so much ass-hattery a man can tolerate before one has to say enough is enough.

As for you pete, I read the rest of your post, which consisted of oft repeated complaints about American buying habits and threats for boycotts. Did I miss anything else? As for garnering respect, nothing gains it faster than the exercise of simple power.

In response to your second post the western missionary presence in China was ambiguous by the best accounts and agents of western imperialism by the rest. A few students sent to the United States(using Chinese money no less, how generous of the Americans!) to study stands in contrast to the rampant racism and imperialism of both the American public and the government.

As for early American attitudes towards Japanese expansion, its no secret that much of the American public thought Japan was an “enlightened” nation bringing civilization (and colonialism) to the rest of Asia. An attitude not totally unremarkable or surprising considering that many in the US were favourable toward Hitler and the Nazies prior to the war.

You didn’t hit any nerves Petey, I just felt like exercising my acerbic wit and you were the nearest and easiest target.

Now perhaps you’d like to address some of my points?

April 11, 2005 @ 1:15 pm | Comment

As for early American attitudes towards Japanese expansion, its no
secret that much of the American public thought Japan was an “enlightened”
nation bringing civilization (and colonialism) to the rest of Asia.

Jing, I’m sure some Americans felt this way, but I never before heard that “much of the American public” did. What’s your source?

As for our imperialism in China, it certainly existed but I always thought it paled in comparison to European and Japanese imperialism, and that America initiated the Open Door policy recognizing China’s government and territories. No, I’m not saying the Americans were angels, but were we really the big villains?

April 11, 2005 @ 1:42 pm | Comment

The open door policy was initiated because the other European and Japanese colonial powers already had a far greater share of China than the Americans. The Americans were late into the game and thus proposed the open door policy so as to gain some influence in China and at the same time defusing possible tension between rival imperial claims. Sheesh even my old High-school history texts were aware of this.

You misunderstand me, I’m not criticizing America as villains at all. They were quite admirably crafty. What I am criticizing is the post-facto manipulation of simple-self interest into self-righteousness. American was no villain, it was probably better than most of the other colonial powers and comparison to the Japanese isn’t even warranted. But then again, neither was it a hero that Americans enjoy making it out to be.

April 11, 2005 @ 2:24 pm | Comment

Open Door was in America’s interests of course, but I thought it was far more respectful of China than policies of Japan and Germany and England. It protected spheres of influence but it also recognized Chinese territorial and administrative integrity, at least according to the books I read back in school (maybe it was US propaganda; I admit, I am no scholar on this period, though I’ve read more than one book on the Boxer Rebellion and its aftermath).

Again, before reading your comment I never heard that much of America saw Japan’s imperialism as a good thing. I’m ot trying to put you on the spot, but just want to know why you make this charge.

April 11, 2005 @ 3:26 pm | Comment

It’s a rather interesting topic of study, I once had a minor project on it for a class about the formation of imperialist politics once and many of the sources I consulted were microfiches of old newspaper articles. Unfortunately a hard drive crash last summer means that I’ve lost all of my old work so I’m afraid I can’t give you primary sources. A wikipedia article on anti-Japanese sentiments briefly makes mention of early American acqueisance to Japanese imperialism, but other than that its hard to find solely with the internet. It will likely be a specia-(damn spam blocker)list area of information so one will have to search historical or academic journals to get anything substantial about the topic. Or better yet, do as I did and visit a library to read very old newspapers.

April 11, 2005 @ 4:10 pm | Comment

There’s nothing wrong with China pursuing its own self-interest, same applies to America, that’s the world of realpolitike. Yet pursuing one’s own agenda at the expenses of world/regional peace is another matter (US invasion of Iraq could be arguably seen as an example). The nasty nationalism, the perpetual victim mentality, and a twisted sense of morality all contribute to the recent anti-Japan protests. CCP has systematically brewing a nationalistic youth base ever since the aftermath of “6.4” massacre to get the attention off its own back. While Japan is without blame for its insensitive and sometimes rightwing conducts, has the CCP apologized for the millions of people died under its regime? The mass scale of violence during Culture Revolution could probably give rape of Nanjing a run for its money, especially considering the violence was committed by students against their teachers, children against their parents, neighbors against neighbors, co-workers against co-workers.

Despite the expanded information came with the internet, China today’s youth are a bunch of super nationalistic, socially irresponsible , morally corrupted hypocritical cowards, especially the educated ones. The same college student who angrily threw a stone at US embassy on Monday would study for the GRE and send his application to MIT on Tuesday. Taiwan independence? Hell no! We will send poor farmer kids to die while we chant slogans and play CS on my made-in-Taiwan laptops. Boycott Japanese goods? Of course! We will get to release our oppressed animal behaviors and feel like a “real” man for the first time without punishments. Brainwashed up the ass, and they don’t even know it. Mine explosions, toxic waste, rampant corruption, oppressed farmers, why don’t you see any one protesting for those causes? Oh, right, nobody likes the taste of a baton on his face.

China is heading towards a dangerous path riding the wave of nationalism. Much like rise of the Nazi Germany, especially with the Olympics coming in 2008. The showing of the achievements of Chinese people is mirrored with the superiority of the Aryan race. Its dictatorship regime, nasty nationalism, and growing appetite for resources and world domination would very well trigger a disaster in the region.

American’s foreign policies might not be that satisfactory. However, with the longest democratic system and a true civil society (although under the assaults of the Bushies), its citizens are the best treated ones in the world today. China’s record pale in comparison. The CCP has done little in lifting the mass from poverty. Its only “credit” is taking its hands off the economy after destroying it for decades. It’s the individual Chinese people who dreams of a better life build China today’s economic miracle. They deserve to be treated much better than their current condition.

Maybe little off the topic at the end, but I guess a long rant following another long rant is not supposed to be a polished thought ๐Ÿ™‚

April 11, 2005 @ 8:39 pm | Comment

Dpark, thanks for one of the most impassioned, sincere and intelligent posts in this entire thread. And yes, the bloodshed of the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Backwards makes the Nanjing massacre look like a relatively minor incident. Maybe Japan will apologize on the day the CCP apologizes.

April 11, 2005 @ 9:18 pm | Comment

Richard I don’t think you should compare the Rape of Nanking with the stupid brutality and disruption of the Cultural Revolution. They are incomparable as the Japanese intentionally brutalized the Chinese for war purposes and ultimately sport. And what brutality by the Japanese. Have you seen the pictures?

April 11, 2005 @ 11:27 pm | Comment

Thanks, Harry. Your girlfriend is a riot. =)

April 11, 2005 @ 11:48 pm | Comment

dpark,

“Brainwashed up the ass, and they don’t even know it. Mine explosions, toxic waste, rampant corruption, oppressed farmers, why don’t you see any one protesting for those causes?”

From the NY times web site China report, You will see there are actually different and smaller scale of protests in rural China.

“The mass scale of violence during Culture Revolution could probably give rape of Nanjing a run for its money, especially considering the violence was committed by students against their teachers, children against their parents, neighbors against neighbors, co-workers against co-workers. ”

So everyone was guilty including you and me, you should never say sorry for anyone, right?

“China is heading towards a dangerous path riding the wave of nationalism. Much like rise of the Nazi Germany, especially with the Olympics coming in 2008. The showing of the achievements of Chinese people is mirrored with the superiority of the Aryan race. Its dictatorship regime, nasty nationalism, and growing appetite for resources and world domination would very well trigger a disaster in the region. ”

You just lost all your credibility when you made that rant.

April 12, 2005 @ 12:01 am | Comment

“Its only “credit” is taking its hands off the economy after destroying it for decades. It’s the individual Chinese people who dreams of a better life build China today’s economic miracle. They deserve to be treated much better than their current condition. ”

Thank you so much, how sweet of you to throw a bone out after you said, Chinese people are “mirrored” with the Nazi Aryans.

๐Ÿ™‚

April 12, 2005 @ 12:13 am | Comment

Correction: You said the showing of the achievements in the Olympics of China and Nazi Germany are similar.

However, it is a lame argument, countries that had hosted the Olympics in the past all wanted to showcase, flaunt their own athletic achievement.

Now this is a sincere editorial from a Japanese Newspaper I would endorse.

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200504090129.html

EDITORIAL: The textbook issue
04/09/2005

Japan should face the past squarely and look to the future.

Under the title of “The Shocking Asahi Shimbun Editorial,” The Sankei Shimbun took up the controversial school textbook issue in its editorial on Thursday.

Having read the Sankei editorial, however, frankly speaking, it is us who are shocked.

Sankei asserted: “The Asahi Shimbun’s (Wednesday) editorial focuses on history and civics textbooks written by members of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform (Tsukurukai) and others and published by Fusosha Publishing Inc. … and Asahi criticizes these textbooks for their `lack of balance.’ By singling out a publisher and attacking it, a newspaper editorial such as this may unnecessarily prejudice members of boards of education (who will choose textbooks for students).”

We have always called for minimal textbook screening, and insisted that the greater the variety of textbooks, the better. Our position has not changed one iota.

We raised the issue of the society’s textbooks and criticized them for the simple reason that we do not think they are suitable for use in classrooms.

Japan supposedly made its post-World War II start in a spirit of contrition for the terrible sacrifices it had forced on its own people as well as its Asian neighbors through conflict and colonialism. Japan’s proper attitude today should be to face its past squarely and seek to build future-oriented relations with its neighbors.

The textbooks in question overemphasize the “high points” of Japanese history and ignore the “darker” aspects, perhaps because of the writers’ zeal to make youngsters feel proud of their country. But it is precisely this sort of lack of balance that makes these textbooks stand out among the rest.

Everybody cares about their country. But this must not preclude respect and consideration for other nations. Otherwise, history would not be taught correctly to the next generation. This was our reason for criticizing the textbooks.

We perfectly understand Sankei’s reasons for supporting the society’s textbooks. The publisher, Fusosha Publishing Inc., is a member of the Fuji-Sankei Group. Fuji Television Network, Inc. and Sankei are the core of this media-related companies’ group.

In an editorial in January 1998, Sankei said: “This is the first challenge by a newspaper company to participate in the making of school textbooks, but together with the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, we ask for the support of our readers and the public and will welcome comments and criticisms.” This editorial appeared around the time the society began writing textbooks.

Sankei is in no position to rebut the charge that it has been using its own newspaper space to promote textbooks in which it has a stake.

That is not the only aspect we regard as extremely questionable. The fact is, that while the textbooks were being screened, Fusosha’s sales people were distributing copies of the textbooks to school teachers around the nation. It was recently revealed in the Diet that Fusosha was ordered three times by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to reclaim those copies. The ministry’s policy is to keep the texts under wraps until the screening process is finished.

Whenever the contents of textbooks submitted by the society for screening were leaked or criticized in the past, Sankei lashed out on its pages: “This will prejudice officials involved in the textbook screening process. It is a matter of journalistic ethics to refrain on reporting on the contents.”

Now that it has come to light that none other than Fusosha was “leaking” the contents, what does The Sankei Shimbun think about that?

–The Asahi Shimbun, April 8(IHT/Asahi: April 9,2005)

April 12, 2005 @ 2:27 am | Comment

Richard I don’t think you should compare the Rape of Nanking with the stupid brutality and disruption of the Cultural Revolution. They are
incomparable as the Japanese intentionally brutalized the Chinese for war purposes and ultimately sport. And what brutality by the Japanese. Have you seen the pictures?

I’ve seen all the pictures and read the books on both topics. Not similar, but both events were among the most shocking of the 20th century, showing man at his most base and dangerous. Yes, the Japanese were more sadistic and brutal, but the Cultural Revolution resulted in the death and torture of many millions, often under appalling circumstances, as Liu Shaoqi could have told you. The Japanese trture was more graphic and shocking, but murder is murder. And the Red Guard were sent by Mao to fulfill his will, wreaking havoc on China in a way that was infinitely more destructive than the Japanese invasion — generations had their minds erased as schools were closed and professors killed. China is still getting over this atrocity.

To re-phrase a famous quote of Chiang Kai Shek, “The Japanese were a disease of the skin; the Cultural Revolution was a disease of the heart.”

April 12, 2005 @ 7:52 am | Comment

Poor Richard, so hard to get his facts straight. You seem to be confusing two separate issues, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. The Great Leap Forward and the crash industralizations and force communalization of earlier years led to the famine that caused millions of deaths. The Cultural Revolution was universal but often random political violence directed at perceived class enemies or merely political opponents of whoever managed to hold the ideal of the mob at time. It was not unprecedent for Red Guard units to clash with each other as ideological orthodoxy had gone out the window and charismatic and unscrupulous political figures rose to the forefront. The deaths caused by the Cultural Revolution pale in comparison to those of the earlier famines. Few people are able to think of this subjectively, but the fact of the matter was, was that the Cultural Revolution didn’t really efect the lives of the great majority of Chinese who were peasants and rural dwellers. It is argueable that the Cultural Revolution had a far greater impact on Chinese society by disrupting the lives of many of the urban elite than the Great Leap Forward did, however the millions of killed during the Cultural Revolution is inaccurate. In actuality, the figure is probably closer to a few hundred thousand as the violence was inherently political and occassionally targeted as well as the random boutes of paranoia. It pales to the 10’s of millions of people who died due to the artificial famine. (The situation is inverse, the millions who died were overwhelmingly peasants and not urban dwellers)

Actually

April 12, 2005 @ 1:55 pm | Comment

Jing, I can tell you all about the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward. I did make a serious typo — I meant 2 million, not 20. The number is not known, but I have read more than once that it was anywhere from 2 to 6 million, so I may be on the low side. At least 30 million died during the Great Leap Backwards, another feather in the Great Helmsman’s cap, so what’s another few million?

Nothing else in your comment contradicts anything I wrote. Thanks for sharing.

April 12, 2005 @ 2:27 pm | Comment

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