Japan apologizes, while rightists continue giving Japan a bad name

Once again, Japan has apologized for its WWII misdeeds, this time actually using the word “apology” in Koizumi’s written statements. Of course, no one in China will accept this apology because Koizumi hasn’t dropped nuclear bombs on the Yasukuni war shrine. I think most of us agree it’s time to get over this.

On the other hand, it’s hard to sympathize with the Japanese when they allow their rightists to behave like animals, and to distort/revise the history of the war. What they did yesterday was the equivalent of inviting the scorn and hatred of all their WWII victim countries.

Striking a conciliatory note on the 60th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi reiterated an apology Monday for “the huge damage and suffering” caused by his nation’s past military aggression and pledged it would never happen again.

But other events here and abroad underscored the extraordinary divisiveness that lingers over Japanese hostilities six decades after the end of World War II. In contrast with the cordial relationships Germany now enjoys in Europe, several of Japan’s former wartime targets in Asia are still charging Tokyo with failing to atone fully for its actions.

As Asia commemorated the 60th anniversary of Japan’s World War II surrender, Japan’s leader on Monday tried to salve wounds by apologizing for the damage and pain the nation had inflicted on its neighbors.

Japan’s critics cite a growing movement here to revise history text books to soften Tokyo’s role in the war that killed millions in Asia, including 3 million Japanese. Ruling party politicians here are also in favor of amending the post-war constitution that renounces Japan’s right to possess an official military.

In his speech in front of the emperor today, Koizumi did not use the word “apology.” However, in a written statement issued earlier in the day, he said that “Japan caused huge damage and suffering to many countries, especially the people of Asia, with its colonization and aggression. Humbly accepting this fact of history, we again express our deep remorse and heartfelt apology and offer our condolences to the victims of the war at home and abroad.”

Yasukuni — which also houses a revisionist war museum that celebrates Japan’s military past complete with an enshrined Zero fighter and Hirohito’s sacred sword — drew more than 100,000 visitors today.

Under a blazing summer sun [at Yakusuni], Japanese groups — some clad in old World War II uniforms and waving the war flag — sang old military hymns and recalled the time when Japan was a burgeoning military power. At least 47 elected members of parliament and two of Koizumi’s cabinet members paid their respects. One wispy Japanese student protester who dared enter the crowd was severely beaten by a group of men before being pulled to safety by bystanders and transported to a local hospital.

His face swollen and bloodied, the young man, who declined to give his name, said the attack began when he voiced his opposition to Koizumi’s visits. “I was then beaten up by a bunch of right-wingers who looked like gangsters,” he gasped.

No, we can’t in fairness let Japan off the hook and blame Chinese immaturity for the all the resentment. Unfortunately, the Chinese leave themselves open to that charge when they appear enraged like an angry child, as they did in this spring’s demonstrations. But they do have something to be angry about, and once they realize they need to take a more strategic and less hysterical approach maybe they’ll do something more constructive and make a real difference, I hope so, because what the Japanese rightists did yesterday was sickening and inexcusable, as is the Japanese government’s allowing WWII revisionism to grow.

And yeah, the Chinese are just as guilty and more so of revisionism. But we expect a more developed and educated country like Japan to do better.

The Discussion: 89 Comments

Yakusuni shrine is the symbol of the Japanese revisionism. Every Chinese has the reason to be furious about the quote below from the Yakusuni Shrine: (note: there were 1000+ war criminals are enshrined even before 14 class I war criminals moved into the Shrine.)

“Some 1,068 people, who were wrongly accused as war criminals by the Allied court, were enshrined here.” The shrine’s English-language website refers to those 1,068 as those “who were cruelly and unjustly tried as war criminals by a sham-like tribunal of the Allied forces.”

Apparently, some Japanese have known it’s contriversal issue or probably completely wrong even if they didn’t openly oppose it. For example, Emperor has stopped visiting the the shrine since 1979.

About China, Richard, I don’t completely agree with you. The Chinese government and CCP are responsible for misinformation, not Chinese. Furthermore, these are two different issues. CCP wrongdoers just do not make Japanese rightists wrongdoers better.

August 15, 2005 @ 6:44 pm | Comment

Lin, we are in total agreement about revisionism in China – it is the CCP that encourages it.

I also understand the arguments about Yakusuni shrine and have heard it 100 times, but the bottom line is Japan is never going to stop honoring the shrine and Japanese leaders will continue to go there. Because to many of them, it is not a symbol of their war crimes, as it is to the Chinese. It is a symbol of their fallen soldiers. It’s China’s choice to make this a precondition before accepting Japan’s policy, but it only serves to keep the wounds fresh. And I know all the stories and the grievances. But it’s not changing. There has to come a point where that’s just accepted. Or else China will have to pay the consequences in terms of strained relations with Japan and the poor publicity it wins them internationally.

August 15, 2005 @ 7:39 pm | Comment


do germans pay respect to former Nazi soldiers?

no matter what, they were german soldiers fighting for germany.

August 15, 2005 @ 7:53 pm | Comment

Germany does indeed pay respect for their fallen WWII soldiers. Most of the soldiers who died were not members of the Nazi party, and most of them were conscripted and are remembered and memorialized in Germany. The leaders of the Nazi Party and the SS and Gestapo, of course, are not memorialized, except by a few freaks in private. But every country honors its war dead in some way, whether they win or lose or were right or wrong.

August 15, 2005 @ 7:57 pm | Comment

When you suggest that the Japanese not “allow” their rightists to act like animals, what you are in effect saying is that the rightists should police themselves. The right wing in Japan includes pretty much everyone in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (for example, “at least 47 elected members of parliament and two of Koizumi’s cabinet members”) and a good portion of the mainstream media. The governors of the two largest urban areas, Tokyo and Kanagawa, may be fairly described as right-wing extremists (Ishihara Shintaro and “Foreigners are all sneaky theives” Matsuzawa). Not to mention that Japan’s crime syndicates (arguably still the world’s largest criminal organizations) are the sponsors of extremist organizations and have deep, long-standing, and demonstrable ties to the ruling party. The LDP may not represent the views of all or even a majority of Japanese (maybe around 40%), but Japan is ruled by the right, with virtually nothing in the way of effective political opposition. Koizumi is nothing more than a representative of the urbane Japanese right (the practical Japanese right), and it isn’t surprising that his apology appears more than a little disingenuous.

August 15, 2005 @ 8:05 pm | Comment

japan is more qualified for the name of “one party dictorship”

August 15, 2005 @ 8:09 pm | Comment

Germany does indeed pay respect for their fallen WWII soldiers. Most of the soldiers who died were not members of the Nazi party, and most of them were conscripted and are remembered and memorialized in Germany. The leaders of the Nazi Party and the SS and Gestapo, of course, are not memorialized, except by a few freaks in private. But every country honors its war dead in some way, whether they win or lose or were right or wrong.

Posted by richard at August 15, 2005 07:57 PM


i do noticed that there are graves for former nazi soldiers both in germany and other european countries, however, there are no worships by german government officials, which is a strong signal to the world that germany today is determined to break with its dark past

and more important, it’s impossible to see germans dressed in nazi uniforms to pay respect to the dead nazi soldiers

both are commonplace in japan today

it’s not only emotionally disgusting, but also very dangerous for the peace in east asia and the world. it will be very naive to say japan today is no longer be able to launch wars

August 15, 2005 @ 8:16 pm | Comment

Remember the furore when Reagan visited that German cemetery with Kohl which had members of the SS buried as well, then shrugged it off by saying “they were victims too”.
Consider the Philipinnes, which “suffered more than any other southeast Asian country, but the only sign of the anniversary was a dozen Chinese-Filipino veterans who laid wreaths at a memorial. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo failed even to mention the war in a speech to the army Monday.”
How could she not even mention it? And to the army at least?! I would be very offended if I was a Filipino.

August 15, 2005 @ 8:18 pm | Comment

There is no worshipping of Nazism and those who stood for it. There is worshipping, even by officials, for Germany’s WWII war dead.

August 15, 2005 @ 8:18 pm | Comment

Bitburg. (Bitberg?)

August 15, 2005 @ 8:19 pm | Comment

Keir, I agree, the neglect of the suffering caused by the Japanese in the Philippines is frustrating. You rarely meet a Japanese who has even heard of the Rape of Manila. Oddly enough, according to Dower there was a great deal of outrage in Japan in the early post-war years after accounts of Japanese atrocities were published, but the memories have faded. As for why the Filipinos don’t make more of an issue of it, possibly it has something to do with knowing which side their bread is buttered on. Or at least with the elites knowing.

August 15, 2005 @ 8:25 pm | Comment

No MAJ, we didn’t criticise the students at Tiananmen because we don’t follow your doctrine of moral relativism. Instead we believed there are some causes worth supporting and some not. Students who protest against a corrupt, authoritarian government and demand peaceful change are worth supporting, students who demand war with the “sneaky dwarf Jap bandits” and wish that al-Qaeda would explode a few bombs in Tokyo subways are not. There certainly is something “selective” about this – its called sticking up for your principles.

August 15, 2005 @ 8:59 pm | Comment


thanks for your great comment.

August 15, 2005 @ 9:01 pm | Comment


pls remove the above post of mine. thanks

i think you have reached a reconciliation with MAJ, but obviously you didn’t.

sigh, why it’s so hard to reach reconciliation with the enemies?

August 15, 2005 @ 9:04 pm | Comment

Bingfeng, I allowed Madge to post two comments yesterday, but not any more. He put up a comment on another site yesterday in which he promises to have his article attacking me translated into Chinese so he can get it picked up elsewhere, with the express purpose of getting Peking Duck and Horse’s Mouth banned in China. I don’t owe anyone who would do that to me any favors, especially since he knows I am concerned it could hurt my future career opportunities. But he has no conscience and no qualms about it. So tell me, why should I greet him here as a guest? I would love to see how you’d react if someone wrote to your employer and said shockingly inappropriate things about your personal life, then put up articles incuding your full name, which he knows you choose not to reveal publicly, on a major Chinese web site making all sort of accusations about you — would you then greet him as a welcome guest at BF Teahouse? No hard feelings? No, bingfeng, I really don’t think you would be so magnanimous, nor should you be. You saw in your own comments the games our friend can play, and you had to delete the entire thread, he became so odious. So I think you know what I mean.

Okay, now that we’ve dealt with that, let’s get back to the subject.

August 15, 2005 @ 9:31 pm | Comment

Dylan, my apologies but I cannot host MAJ’s comments here. Your comment is fully appreciated and understood, without MAJ’s earlier comment.

August 15, 2005 @ 9:33 pm | Comment


i understand and totally agree with you in that point.

hope you have a smooth and fruitful trip to china

August 15, 2005 @ 9:44 pm | Comment

Thanks a lot, BF.

August 15, 2005 @ 9:46 pm | Comment

Richard, based on your statement, you must also think that the Jews are bunch of immature kids who are constantly whining about the holocaust.

August 15, 2005 @ 10:42 pm | Comment

No prowler, I don’t, and I don’t think all Chinese are in that category either. But I sure saw recent evidence that many are. As a Jew and student of the Holocaust, I have never, ever seen Jews en masse lose control and attack German stores (especially not stores with German names that were actually owned and run by Jews!), or destroy German cars simply because they bore a German logo. Yet we did see that in China, and it was to some extent encouraged by the government. It was in many ways perceived, rightly, as a rather childish reaction because it appeard to have no strategy, merely an outburst of aggression. When have the Jews behaved similarly in regard to the Holocaust, especially 60 years since it ended? Most Jewish demonstrations I have seen for the Holocaust are, in contrast, remarkably somber, thoughful and full of discussion, inquiry and prayer. Is that how you would describe the riots of this spring, and the web sites dedicated to the hatred of Japan? Explain, please. I’m curious what you have in mind.

August 15, 2005 @ 10:50 pm | Comment

If Germany started a shrine in memory of Hitler and Nazism, I have no doubt there would be a few demonstrations in Israel. Heck, I bet there would even be vandalism of few German cars.

BTW, I have a Jewish co-worker who absolutely refuses to buy German cars. I pass no judgment on his reasoning. In fact, I probably would be pretty sympathetic.

August 15, 2005 @ 11:00 pm | Comment


Speaking of the anti-Japanese demonstrations this past spring, I found this article on the China Daily to be of interest.

China’s foreign direct investment drops

SHANGHAI, China – Foreign direct investment in China fell 3.4 percent to $33.1 billion in the first seven months of this year compared with the same period last year, the Ministry of Commerce reported Monday.

Of course, it doesn’t say exactly why or which country or countries reduced their investment, but I can’t help wondering if it had anything to do with the tide of anti-Japanese anger sweepting through the country during the Spring….

August 15, 2005 @ 11:15 pm | Comment

“If Germany started a shrine in memory of Hitler and Nazism” it wouldn’t be Israel alone getting upset, but even in such an instance the burning of items made in Germany and the trashing of German businesses would be pointless and, yes, childish. “Childish” behavior is the hallmark of the powerless- children throw tantrums because they are frustrated at their powerlessness in the face of adult authority, and what are the citizens of the PRC if not the “children” of an authoritarian state? In this case, the state has given them an outlet for venting their rage. “The people have to let off steam once in a while” is probably one operating principle, the other being that a manageable growth of raw nationalism is not such a bad thing (the people have to have something to believe in, now that all that is left of Communism is embalmed and sealed in a glass case). Nevertheless, I agree with those who suggest that Beijing is playing a dangerous game. And it is pretty obvious, by the way, that one thing the PRC leaders are not trying to accomplish is anything in the way of real change in the Japanese education system or Japanese thinking about the war. If anything, Japan-bashing has the opposite effect, both because Japan is governed mostly by reactionaries and also because even reasonable people don’t like seeing their country trashed. I doubt this fact is lost on the Chinese leadership, and the Ishiharas of Japan seem to respond as if on cue.

August 15, 2005 @ 11:24 pm | Comment

I’m STILL waiting for an apology from the Romans for all their invasions and atrocities. What did the Romans ever do for us?

August 15, 2005 @ 11:34 pm | Comment

Come on, Ivan. Who is US? Celts, whose people have disappeared? France, which wasn’t even a country at the time? Dacians? Mesopotamians? People who have less to be proud of themselves in the intervening years? And besides, the Romans today are as closely related to their namesakes as Greeks are to Pericles.

August 15, 2005 @ 11:43 pm | Comment

Never mind the Romans there are still those of us who hold grudges against all horses for their role in the Trojan War.

August 15, 2005 @ 11:47 pm | Comment

When have the Jews behaved similarly in regard to the Holocaust, especially 60 years since it ended? Most Jewish demonstrations I have seen for the Holocaust are, in contrast, remarkably somber, thoughful and full of discussion, inquiry and prayer.


sporadic reportings just shows that jewish people are no different with chinese in this regard

expel prankmaker who sign “hitler” in his dinner bills, refuse to take german soldiers who help israel defend saddam’s missile attack, hunt nazis and throw their bone ashes out of jewish land, ask pro-nazi french politicians, russian billionaires to apologize ……

i can’t image what jews will do if germans start to worship hitler and say that holocaust is fabricated by jews

August 15, 2005 @ 11:51 pm | Comment

Never mind the Romans there are still those of us who hold grudges against all horses for their role in the Trojan War.


Thanks! I needed that laugh.

August 16, 2005 @ 12:05 am | Comment

Gordon, re the 3%+ decrease in FDI year-on-year, I’ve decided to tie this into a post for HM. The evidence so far is that the anti-Japan riots had an small impact on Japanese companies attitudes to China but, seeing as the riots only took place in April, it’s still very early days yet. High oil prices and the Yuan revaluation would also have had an impact on China FDI and also, China can not expect to maintain very high levels of FDI indefinitely.
JETRO Surveys Japanese Business Plans Following Anti-Japanese Movement in China

Following the anti-Japanese sentiment that erupted in China this April, the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) conducted a special survey to measure how these events affected the business plans of Japanese companies operating in China or those considering the country as an investment/trade destination.

Asked about possible negative impacts for Japanese businesses in China stemming from the anti-Japanese movement, 19.1% of all respondents cited “decreased sales from boycotts of Japanese goods” and 16.4% pointed to “tarnished image of Japanese products”. While most firms were concerned the April events may effect their future sales performance, manufacturers with production bases in China were more worried about how the events might affect their production activities, with many forecasting “worsened relationships with Chinese employees” and “difficulty in securing personnel locally”.

Some respondent firms are even planning to “postpone or cancel investment projects in China” (7.5%), while a smaller percentage aim to “downsize production in China or shift production bases to other countries” (5.6%).

Comparing the results of the May survey to those obtained in the November-December 2004 survey cited above, the percentage of companies planning to expand operations in China dropped nearly 32 points to 54.8% in May. Although companies willing to “maintain present business scale” rose from 13.3% to 39.4%, firms planning to “downsize or withdraw operations in China” increased slightly to 4.1% (up from 0.2%), which suggests that Japanese companies may cool somewhat on China following the anti-Japan disturbances in the country.

August 16, 2005 @ 12:06 am | Comment

If you knew Monty Python inside out like some of us do, you would have known I was being ironic.
The referenced line is from Life of Brian by the way.

August 16, 2005 @ 12:14 am | Comment

In certain parts of Europe, one cannot even posses Nazi stuff or make seig heil salute. Of course, we have the French fries turn “freedom” fries, because we just don’t like frogs.

But, it’s always easier to pretend one’s holier than others. LOL.

August 16, 2005 @ 12:17 am | Comment

It’s a draw, but a very close call, in fact a bit too close for comfort. On the bright side, this is probably one of the best test match that I can recall. I’m of course very proud of the Aussie team. But I also have a lot of respect for the English.
If China and Japan could settle their differences more often on sport ground, face to face, man to man, then perhaps they will start to appreciate the company of each other more. Afterall they are next door neighbours and share similar cultural heritage – Just another thought.

August 16, 2005 @ 1:08 am | Comment

While I agree that Japan is still sending mixed signals about its remorse about its actions during WWII. I do think their PM making a public apology yesterday is nevertheless a step forward and an act of goodwill ( one has to begin somewhere ).
Revisionnism in japanese school books definitely has to be tackled but it will take time ( as it would with any country afflicted with a right wing gvt, btw ).

As for the Yakusuni shrine, i really doubt it is something China or any country for that matter has the power to change. I keep reading different things about Yakusuni. Some people people make it sound like it has nothing to do with worshipping war time criminals, other sources point out its revisionnist war museum. I don’t really know what to think about it, as I have never been to Japan. But one thing is sure the more there will be protests such as the ones in China earlier this year, the less I see the likeliness of japanese people stopping visiting or worshiping at this shrine. On the contrary the more they feel their country is being violently stigmatised the more their “right-wing behaviour” will be reinforced. And of course the worse it will be for the relations between the two countries.

Now, as I am no rocket scientist, I refuse to believe that I am the only one who has come to this conclusion, which in turn makes me wonder if the CCP is REALLY seeking peaceful relations with Japan or if their aim is to keep worsening the situation by maintaining the chinese people in a state of constant bitterness…

While I really don’t give a damn of what people say or think about the Japanese gvt, and while I agree that their atitude is still ambiguous, I really do worry about how the chinese react to japanese civilians ( students, company employees) living or visiting China. How is beating up, insulting or mistreating them solving the problem? How is it making the international community having more respect for China?

On the contrary people tend to feel more sympathy for Japan ( former agressor ) than for the Chinese (former victim).
Ridiculous, no?

August 16, 2005 @ 1:29 am | Comment

I know Holy Grail by heart and saw your last sentence as an homage to Life of Brian. But what’s the point of submitting a comment if you then say it’s irrelevant and outside the context of the general discussion? How is anyone supposed to understand your real point (if there is one)?

August 16, 2005 @ 1:35 am | Comment

Relevance of my remark about the Romans: How far back do we trace collective guilt and collective victimhood?
This is not to make any direct comparison between the Romans and the Japanese. Rather, just a reminder of the ambiguous boundaries of collective responsibility through time.

August 16, 2005 @ 2:31 am | Comment

PS, a bit more seriously: I have heard many Russians attribute Russia’s ongoing problems to the invasions of the Mongols 800 years ago.

August 16, 2005 @ 2:33 am | Comment

Attribute the development of Russia as a nation to the Tatar Yoke, sure. A Russian who thought an apology was in order wouldn’t be given any more vodka that night, especially given good relations between the two in large part for Russia’s keeping the Chinese out (of what is considered Mongolia proper, at least; actually, the Russians kicked the Japanese out of Mongolia, too).

August 16, 2005 @ 2:41 am | Comment

cryystal- good points, but:
“Some people people make it sound like [Yasukuni] has nothing to do with worshipping war time criminals, other sources point out its revisionnist war museum.”
One trip there would answer that question for you. Yasukuni glorifies war. Particularly interesting is the attention paid to an astonishing array of suicide weapons. Bushido is in a way a death cult, and Yasukuni embodies the attempt from the Meiji Period on to foist samurai ethos on the entire country; from a caste system to 100 million hearts beating as one.

August 16, 2005 @ 3:12 am | Comment

You’re absolutely right. And most Russians – even those who attribute Russia’s problems to the legacy of the Mongol invasions – would laugh at the idea of Mongolia “apologizing” for anything. (Also, there’s a lot of Tatar blood mixed in the Russian population, among Christians as well as the remnant of Muslim Russians who still call themselves Tatars.)
It’s more of an abstract analysis, rather than a grievance against Mongols (even less of a grievance against the rather new state of “Mongolia”)
So – actually, the more I think about it, the more I realize how apposite your point is, vis a vis the Russian attitude toward Mongols (“Tatars”): Russians (well, aside from the Tatar Russians) don’t hate Mongols, they look down on them.
Their sense of having been set back by the Mongols is abstract and analytical, not a historical grievance.
So I wonder how long it will take for China to look at Japan’s invasion with scorn and personal detachment, rather than with ongoing grievance. 100 years? 800 years?

August 16, 2005 @ 3:20 am | Comment

If Tatars looked like Rita Hayworth in The Conqueror, I wouldn’t look down my nose at them if one of them asked me out.

August 16, 2005 @ 3:29 am | Comment

Sorry- Susan Hayward.
biopic The Conqueror, John Wayne’s Genghis Khan was no snob when it came to Tatars. OK, he wasn’t Russian, but his cry resonates across borders: “There are moments for action, then I listen to my blood. I feel this Tatar woman is for me. My blood says take her!”

August 16, 2005 @ 3:37 am | Comment

Mmmm, Susan Hayward!
Actually many Russian Tatars today have blonde hair. Kind of like the Jews all over the world, the Tatars mixed so thoroughly into Russia that there’s no longer any typical Tatar appearance. Kind of like how Kirk Douglas (Jewish) looked like a perfect Viking.

August 16, 2005 @ 3:48 am | Comment

oh and Kirk Douglas’ father was Russian-Jewish. Probably where he got his Viking blood from. Probably some Tatar mixed in their too. 🙂

August 16, 2005 @ 3:51 am | Comment

OK, first of all I oppose revisionists strongly, be they from Japan, Germany or Italy. Second there is nothing like Yasukuni shrine in Germany. When ploitical leaders in Germany vistit graveyards of soldiers who died in the World wars it is mostly done together with the leaders of other states, former enemies, to promote reconsiliation.

Reconsiliation is the key to peace.
I can understand how disturbing it must be to see those MPs visiting the Yasukuni Shrine and this inevitably can give the impression that Japan didn’t change.
This shrine is an obstacle for reconsiliation but one has to understand, as Richard allready pointed out, that parts of Japans society won’t stop visiting this shrine in forseable time.
So to promote peace you have to engage in a dialogue with those in Japanese society who also are against this worshipping. It is the right and duty of all Asian nations who suffered under the Japanese to protest against Japanese politicians when they worship the shrine but if that’s all you do and not at the same time start a dialogue with the righthearted people in Japan you only produce an antagonism and not reconsiliation.
This is my major point when I criticise Chinese. I do not critise them because they protest when the shrine is visited but I critise that apart from that little is done. By that you do foster the antagonism, and don’t tell me they started it. That’ a childish argument which leads nowhere.

Well, what concernse the Germen-Jewish relationship. There are a lot of jews who don’t have problems with Germans but there are also some who do have.
My first encounter with that was when I traveled in China the first time where I met a guy from Isreal which whom I travelled for some time. One day we met other Israelis and the guy later told me they asked him if he thinks it is right to travel with a German guy.

When I was in Shanghai to study, there was a girl from Israel in my class which became a friend of mine. After some time she told me that it was very strange for her to hear me and others talking in German because she only knew the sound of this language from films about the holocaust she saw in Israel. An example how impotant youth-exchange is.

The most sureal experience was in Tailand. I was on a little boat heading towards a small island. With me on the boat were a guy from Austria, a guy from Swisserland (German-speaking part) and two Israeli sisters. They did’t realise that I was a German in the first place but when they realised it they became silent. One of them them later told me that they allways, when they had heard Germans talking on their travels, had turned away. Their grandparants had survived the holocaust and they grewn up with those horrible stories. I understand their reaction but on the other hand I didn’t commit these crimes. I can understand that people who survived the holocaust or lost loved ones don’t want to have to do anything with something or someone related to Germany. For sure I don’t expact these girls to become Germany-aficionados but in the third generation I think there should be at least the willingness to look into the future and see for themselves if the Germans are still Nazis or if there has been a change.

August 16, 2005 @ 4:50 am | Comment

Interesting points, and may I add that the German Jews WERE (and are) German?
I remember when I was ten years old, my Dad ordered me to watch the TV series “The World At War”, ie he ordered me to watch the episode about the Holocaust. And while it showed the footage of the concentration camps, he told me,
“That’s what Hitler did to his people.”
I replied, “But it said he did it to the Jews.” And my Dad replied:
“The Jews in Germany WERE Hitler’s people! They WERE GERMANS! He had a responsibility to protect them, as Germans!”
A good lesson he taught me. It drove home the whole point, of how evil and unreal and untruthful it was for Hitler to distinguish Jews from everyone else.
Just my two Pfennig. It always bothers me when I hear people (of any country) make a distinction between Jews and Germans.
And then we could go on about all the Jews who fought for Germany in the First World War…..and Mendelsohn, etc etc….and the German Jews had roots in Germany going back to ancient Roman times, and some of them were more racially “Aryan” than a lot of Germans are….(Himmler was obviously NOT purely “Aryan”…. 🙂

August 16, 2005 @ 5:07 am | Comment

I am in absolute agreement wizh you Ivan.

For the lighter part, what concerns reconsiliation, tomorrow Germany will play against Netherlands.
Though reconsiliation was quite sucsessfull what concerns reconsiliation on the football field, there is still a long way to go till a friendship game between the two nations will be a real friendship game.
But then, a little antagonism in football is what makes the game interesting, as long as it is confined to the field. : )

August 16, 2005 @ 5:21 am | Comment

Hey Shulan,
Cool, and I have a good anecdote to add to your last comment. A few years ago while I lived in England, I saw an episode of the TV show “Spitting Image” and one sketch showed an old British WW II veteran talking to a German WW II veteran. The German said “Tommy, I’m sorry. Sorry for how Germany started the war.” And the old British soldier said, “Well, Fritz, it’s all in the past. Nice day isn’t it?” And then the German said, “And I’m sorry Germany defeated England in the 1996 World Cup” And then the Brit said, “NOW YOU’VE GONE TOO FAR!” and started beating up the old German…. 🙂 🙂

August 16, 2005 @ 6:14 am | Comment

Germany doesn’t “worship” the nazi war dead. They worship the “German war dead”.

Same goes with Japan.

August 16, 2005 @ 6:34 am | Comment

Yeah, football can be a sensitive issue.

Yes, Germans do worship their war dead but we do not worship those criminals who were prosecuted in the Nürnberg-trials. That’s a difference.

August 16, 2005 @ 6:52 am | Comment

Reconciliation is a two way street. So please don’t say since Japanese won’t change, the rest of asia need to find a way to reconcil with Japanese.

Whether some Japanese like it or not, the shrine is seemed as as a symbol of its militant past by most people in the rest of asia. And until steps are taken to diffuse that feeling, very little reconcillation probably could be done.

To me, Japan today is still in bed with its militant past. And Japan being a democracy only reinforced that image since without broad support, those politicians will be committing political suicide to visit the shrine.

August 16, 2005 @ 9:18 am | Comment

I still don’t think they will stop visiting the shrine. They have been visiting it for quite a while, and Japan has still done very well for itself.

And I think they SHOULD stop visiting it, but that is just a dream. Looking at the article and seeing how passionate so many people in Japan are about Yakusuni, I think it is unrealistic to say that will change. As one commenter said above, the more China and Korea shriek about the shrine, the more determined the rightists are to go there and make a big scene. If China truly wants them to change, the strategy of blind rage isn’t going to work.

August 16, 2005 @ 9:43 am | Comment

I would think removing those Class A war criminals from the shrine is a very reasonable step. But again, if those war criminals “were cruelly and unjustly tried as war criminals by a sham-like tribunal of the Allied forces” per note on the shrine, some Japanese probably won’t think it is reasonable, will they?

August 16, 2005 @ 9:56 am | Comment

No, the Japanese will not change their minds about the war criminals, especially as the revisionism increases. But to make this the one sticking poiint on which everything hinges is plain crazy. As I said, the more bitterly the Chinese complain about it the more determined the rightists are to idolize the shrine. So we have a perpetual tug of war, like two kids in the playground.

August 16, 2005 @ 10:14 am | Comment

I’m surprised to hear you said “No, the Japanese will not change their minds about the war criminals”, even I read from somewhere that some Japanese were proposing that.

To me, the shrine as a sticking point is not plain crazy but quite the contrary, offers a possible future solution to the problem.

August 16, 2005 @ 10:32 am | Comment

Wawa, I was referring to the rightist Japanese, the ones who see it as a holy place and worship the war heroes as described in the article. There are certainly some who oppose it, like the students who got beaten up by the rightists. But I think more Japanese are on the side of keeping the shrine as it is and continuing to have their leaders visit there.

August 16, 2005 @ 10:43 am | Comment

Richard, is it just me or you are quite soft on the rightist Japanese? Bring out from the closet the whip you normally use on CCP and get started!!!

/Joke off

August 16, 2005 @ 10:46 am | Comment

Yes Richard,
I see a bit of a double standard here. While you (rightly) dismiss the chinese demonstrators as being childish and brutish, you think we should accept the fact that the Japanese visit a shrine celebrating their war criminals because it is “unrealistic” to expect them to change. Well, I think it is just as unrealistic for other Asian countries to forgive Japan as long as they’re trying to whitewash their history.

I refer you to this post by Publius about the confederate flag. It’s true, when southerners see it, they don’t see it as representing a shameful history of racism. They see rebel pride. That’s why they can feel good about draping it over their pickup trucks. But for a black person walking past that flag, there is now way they can see it as anything but a symbol of terror. Same with Yakusuni — you can argue until the cows come home that the Japanese are just honoring their dead, but as far as China, Korea and all the other countries Japan ravaged in WWII is concerned, it will remain a hateful celebration of war criminals.

August 16, 2005 @ 11:14 am | Comment

Duck, did you see the news that Koizumi prepared two version of the speech, and the version read for the emperor and broadcasted in Japan had apology and references to colonialism removed?

from timesonline.co.uk (can’t post link).

“But the similarly worded speech that he read aloud at a ceremony
attended by Emperor Akihito and members of the Government omitted all references to colonialism”

What do you make of this?

August 16, 2005 @ 11:28 am | Comment

Dear TPD,
As my prophets have said:
“Be excellent to each other!”
If you f— it up it’s all your fault. I gave you everything you need.
Sincerely yours,

August 16, 2005 @ 11:37 am | Comment

PS, more seriously, someone asked a Rabbi who had survived Auschwitz:
“At Auschwitz, where was God?”
And the Rabbi replied:
“Where was Man?”

August 16, 2005 @ 11:40 am | Comment

C’mon people, does anyone realistically believe that if Japanese govt officials stop visiting the Yakusuni China will then be satisfied and placated?

Absolutely not. As well as believing that Beijing policy of blind rage and dire warnings to be successful, the chinese govt will seamlessly and effortlessly move right along to, fo rinstance, the textbook issue—it will be if the Yakusuni issue never existed. If not the textbook issue, then Beijing will call upon the Japanese govt to ‘rein-in’ the activities of right-wing or a host of other issues the China has a problem with.

It will never stop and I think that many Japanese people recognise this. Remember the Indonesian conference recenly where Koizumi apologised in front of 50 heads of state? The first reaction from Beijing was a massive shrug of the shoulders and a call for “Action not words”.

Trying to plactate Beijing is an impossible task. The Japanese are not stupid, they know that a paranoid and nervous CCP trying to smoothly take China down the road of transition uses Japan as THE external enemy. The CCP can’t back down now so what’s the point?

August 16, 2005 @ 11:42 am | Comment

Bobby, the reason he did it is all too obvious. He told his people what he thought they could deal with.

Martyn, totally correct. It would be quite neat if Japan called China’s bluff and stopped visiting the shrine. But then, as you say, it would be off to the next Japan-hating issue. It can’t end; it’s been hard-wired into the national psyche at a young age.

August 16, 2005 @ 11:59 am | Comment

I think you guys are missing the point (there, I put myself in trouble). The issue will only go away when the rest of asia (please don’t just say China, it will bring up the hatre in you) sees Japan really parted ways with its militant past. And if you ask me, I don’t know what Japan need to do to achieve it, but resolving the Shrine issue will be a great first step.

August 16, 2005 @ 12:22 pm | Comment

Battlepanda, I understand all you are saying, and I don’t think there’s a double standard. I’m blasting the Japanese in this post, those who revere Japan’s war crimes and idealize its perpetrators.

China’s response of blind rage is what is childish. Their anger is justified and I say so in my poist. I say if they could channel this rage to approach the issue strategically instead of emptionally, then maybe they might get somewhere, and at least appear less miliutant and prickly to the rest of the world.

And yes, wawa, we all know the Koreans are equally as outraged. Luckily for them and their international relations, aside from a few vocal idiots they haven’t made Japan-bashing a national past-time and they haven’t reacted the way many of the young people in China did in April, vandalizing Chinese-owned restaurants just because they serve Japanese food, and shit like that.

August 16, 2005 @ 12:41 pm | Comment

I rest my case.

August 16, 2005 @ 12:46 pm | Comment

I disagree wawa that Japanese govt officals suddenly stopping visits to the Yakusuni would be, as you say, “a good first step” fo rthe reasons I wrote above.

China’s reaction would be “It’s a good thing you’ve stopped visiting, now change all your school text books to accurately describe the atrocities carried out during WWII. Once that’s done (and I don’t believe that anything short of copying Chinese school history books word-for-word would placate the Chinese—and that that would never be acceptable to the Japanese).

Assuming the textbooks were changed to china’s satisfaction, it would then be “Please sack Ishihara for his constant insults to Asian peoples”. Then it would be “Ban all right-wing activities and right-wing publications”. Then it would be”Stop applying for a UNSC seat”. Then it would be “Stop all parlimentary debates re-examining Article 9 of the consititution”….and the list goes on.

If you were Koizumi, wouldn’t you recognise that stopping visits to Yakusuni would not only achieve nothing but would only encourage China to issue a long list of further demands?

August 16, 2005 @ 1:05 pm | Comment

I am very hard on the rightist Japanese, Wawa, but since the CCP came to power far more have suffered under their hands than under the rightists’ hands. I can’t take on every bad guy in the world; between Bush and the CCP I have ny hands full.

August 16, 2005 @ 1:19 pm | Comment

Next time there is a KKK march around here, I’ll be sure to tell those anti-KKK protestors to read this site. Apparently they havn’t grown up yet. LOL.

Better leave those KKK marchers alone. We wouldn’t want to disturb them now. Oh, the inhumanity.

August 16, 2005 @ 1:28 pm | Comment

I haven’t heard of a KKK march in America since the 1980s. They are a curiosity in America, something nearly all Americans despise. Their marches are never facilitated or encouraged by the government.

And if they do march, we leave them alone as long as they do it legally and don’t commit acts of violence. But they are definitely seen as a bunch of freaks today. They became very popular back about 60 years ago and then totally fizzled out.

August 16, 2005 @ 1:39 pm | Comment

Here have you being?
There are KKK marches around here every few years. Of course, you probably don’t pay attention to the anti-KKK rally, because they are just being “childish.”

August 16, 2005 @ 1:44 pm | Comment

First of all, where is “here”? If you are in the deep south, I can believe it.

And when you refer to marches, do you mean a local march of 30 guys, or do you mean major marches like they held in Skokie, Ill.? Because if they’ve been holding major marches recently, I haven’t seen it in the newspapers. Racial prejudice is one of the things I follow, and the Klan has been out of the news for some tume.

Oh, and if you don’t watch your tone you’ll be out of here. I’m not tolerating bs anymore.

August 16, 2005 @ 1:52 pm | Comment

As a Chinese, I am very sickened by the fact that few Japanese will still refuse to admit the crime committed in the WWII. Even angrier when few even suggested changing the history books. The Japanese government claimed the books are chosen by individual schools. Well, do you see American school to be allowed choose books praising the salve trade, or German schools to be allowed choose books hail Nazi ideologies? No matter how many time they apologize, in their heart, they never think what they did was criminal in WWII. To consider many don’t even think they lost the war. Japan always views itself as a victim, of the atomic bomb, of the allied forces. I even heard some claimed Japan’s invasion of Asian countries “helped prevent the colonization of the region by the Europeans.” Ha!!!

That been said. As a Chinese, I am sad to see Chinese people been used by the government and CCP. In fused with extreme Nationalism, the young people I talked to direct every their dissatisfaction and anger to aboard. It is always Japan’s fault, or US’s fault.

CCP is playing a very dangerous game by flaming the Nationalism among younger generations. I agree with Lin on CCP’s role in all the protests. Clearly, CCP is, and always has been, misleading its people. How many students in China know the role CCP played during WWII? When so many Chinese war victims request Japan’s compensation for the war, do they know why their government never raised the issue and turned a silent ear? Because CCP doesn’t want to, couldn’t have. MAO even went so far thanking for Japan’s invasion, “created opportunities for CCP and Chinese people to claim the regime.”

CCP is clearly using the issues with Japan to diverse people’s attention and focus from inwards to outwards, form internal corruptions, lawless to international conflicts. And if there is no conflict, it will create some. Since it controls the media, fabricate some news to blind people’s eye is easy. If I want to go far off, I would even compare CCP with Nazi. Same happened, and always happens, when a country is failing because of internal problems and corruptions of the government, when its people suffer, extremist rises and direct people’s anger aboard. In that sense, I feel sorry for so many Chinese who don’t know the truth.

And how many in western world knows about history of WWII in Asian? While many learned crimes of Nazi committed to Jews, how many school teaches the blood ruling of Japan in China, Korean or Philippine? I think there is a general ignorance and arrogance in the Western Civilization, including US. They always see themselves as the “saviors,” the “liberators.” Of course, the allied force is the hero. However, it seems West hardly interest history other than their own. For many, the contributions of Chinese army fighting Japan in Asia was never acknowledged.

And you wonder why the public in Europe and US were “shocked” by the China’s protest? When the media focused so much on China, did any one bothered to provide a little background information for the readers? And why so much focus on China? They were big protests in Korea too. I haven’t seen any US newspaper writing those stories.

Sorry if I ran off the course and start ranting.

August 16, 2005 @ 1:53 pm | Comment

Don’t you just love it, when Chinese protest, they must be under the mind-control of CCP. Everybody else protests, they must be good citizens.

I love the double standard.

August 16, 2005 @ 2:01 pm | Comment

oh, btw, the protests were not childish, since it is not started by the people, as many came to believe. the first protest in BJ was organized by some student union, clearly backed by CCP.

when CCP saw the marches went out of control, it halted all future demonstrations, even arrested a “civil leader” in shanghai.

the protests served a purpose, like i’ve already said.

August 16, 2005 @ 2:02 pm | Comment

BTW, are you trying to censor me, just like the CCP. Oh, the irony is too delicious, just like the Peking duck. LOL.

August 16, 2005 @ 2:05 pm | Comment

Nothing to do with censorship Prowler so don’t try that on. It’s to do with BS. If you made some serious points instead of smug and snide remarks, you’d be fine.

August 16, 2005 @ 2:14 pm | Comment

Prowler, if I were the CCP, I wouldn’t have said a word, you’d just be out. I’m not censoring you but I am warning you. State your opinion but don’t lash out with insults. Clear? If you want to do that, start your own blog.

August 16, 2005 @ 2:23 pm | Comment

Don’t you just love it, when Chinese protest, they must be under the
mind-control of CCP. Everybody else protests, they must be good

Stop being an ass. And don’t put words in my mouth.

When the Huankantou and Shengyou peasants recently demonstrated, it was not at all government sponsored. It was authentic, and they were fighting for their lives. In fact, with all the thousands of riots and demonstrations going on the past few months in China, he only ones I read about where the CCP assisted was the anti-Japanese protests, until they decided it was time to end them. (Whenever there’s a large urban demonstration in China and the police assist, you know it’s government sponsored. Tiananmen Square may be the one exception, as several police did join the protestors.)

It is a documented fact that the police in several Chinese cities helped the anti-Japan demonstrators, supplying them with eggs and leading them to choice places to throw them.

I never said when Chinese people demonstrate it is foolish. Demonstrating is fine. It is when they attack people in Japanese cars, and restaurants with Japanese names that they become extremely foolish, as others did with their very juvenile web sites shrieking about Japan’s past sins, echoing the party’s talking points word for word. That’s juvenile, because there is no thought or strategy behind it, and no measurable goals. It’s like a kid holding his breath until he turns blue.

August 16, 2005 @ 2:32 pm | Comment

Kevin: And how many in western world knows about history of WWII in Asian? While many learned crimes of Nazi committed to Jews, how many school teaches the blood ruling of Japan in China, Korean or Philippine?

You might be surprised. More Americans died in Japanese prison camps than in German ones, and throughout the war Japan was far more vilified in America, often in shockingly racist terms. My own father, then a mere 17, served in the Philippines at the end of the war as did the parents of many, many thousands of Americans. We were taught about Japanese war crimes in my school, though being Jewish I was always more interested in German’s crimes, I admit.

I would say it’s true that most Americans don’t know much about Japan’s war crimes, but most Americans don’t know much about anything – I’m talking about the masses, who believed Saddam was behind 911 and whgo don’t know there are three branches to the US government. They know as little about the Rape of Nanking as they do of just about everything else in history that wasn’t on this week’s evening news.

Otherwise Kevin, I agree with much of your long comment.

August 16, 2005 @ 2:54 pm | Comment


Don’t be offended if I choose the wrong words. I didn’t say that the allied force didn’t fight in Pacific region, nor did I ignore the fact that many died. I have great respect for all of them. And I know the history about the Japanese concentration camp in the States too. That was indeed one of the dark times in the US history.

But just as you said, most of Americans know a little about anything, or choose no to care if it is about them. So there is no wonder when saw the anti-Japanese protests in China, they would say something indifferent like, “why? It is so long ago;” and how “Chinese cannot let go of the past.” And that is the problem—ignoranceof the history.

I start to think maybe it is because China is ruled by CCP. Everything China does is evaluated with the old Cold War way of thinking. Everything China does is been viewed by someone as a threat to US. That is off the topic. But you couldn’t help to notice there are biased tones in the media and public when the topic comes to China.

I agree there is a need for plans and strategies. One of successes Japan did is to portray itself as victim not a criminal. It played again and again on the atomic bombing, and how thousands were died. (Not to sound un-sympathetic, more Chinese died by the hands of Japanese soldiers.) I think it is successful because not only the Japanese people but also the government consistently plays the victim role in front of the world. And certainly the world is fooled.

Chinese, whether in mainland, Taiwan, or other countries hasn’t come up with a systematic way approaching this. I don’t know why it is, but it is hard for Chinese to agree with each other. And it certainly doesn’t help when Japan always denies the tragic like Rape of Nanjing.

A long way to go. But still hope the truth will come out.

(And I would probably go to protest too if I was in China. But I will stop short at demolishing private properties and beating people simply because they worked at a Japanese restaurant. But you see how quickly the Chinese forget, in Shanghai, it recently held a Japanese culture celebration. Many people went, no protest.)

My apologies if I went off topic too far again.

August 16, 2005 @ 3:44 pm | Comment

I agree with Martyn here. The practical impact of popular Chinese nationalism is to make the issue more difficult to resolve diplomatically with Japan, because Chinese state nationalists are forced to respond to their perceptions of society’s demands. As a result, reconciliation is unlikely, no matter what Japan says or does, because it’s difficult for China’s leaders to assess the societal winset.

However, the influence of Japanese nationalism over Japanese foreign policy is qualitatively different than the influence of Chinese nationalism over Chinese foreign policy, because of the different political systems in which these two nationalisms operate. In a pluralist political system, nationalism finds expression through the political activities of far-right parties or interest groups. These parties or groups, in turn, can openly criticize the government’s foreign policy positions on particular issues. The public, in such a system, can make up their own minds about the legitimacy of these nationalist groups’ views, and can convey their support accordingly, through membership or through the electoral process. While there are cases in which small parties in parliamentary systems such as Japan’s have exerted considerable leverage within coalition governments, the size of nationalist parties or nationalist groups is likely to be somewhat proportional to their political influence. In Japan, nationalist views have a distinct and measurable constituency, based on nationalist groups’ transparent and direct methods of recruiting supporters. Therefore, foreign policy decision-makers can be relatively clear about the size and general acceptability of nationalist foreign policy positions. If those positions are not supported by a majority or even a sizable minority of the public, they are likely to be ignored.

Without a pluralist political system, these signals to foreign policy decision-makers become indirect, and less transparent. In China, nationalist groups do not have distinct, measurable constituencies, and are viewed as proxies for larger swaths of public opinion. Chinese leaders cannot discount the opinions of nationalist groups, because they have no way of knowing if membership is a true indicator of support. In such a system, small groups of committed activists can influence the opinions of the leadership simply by being vocal and visible. Internal public opinion polling may indicate policy preferences, but vocal activism cannot be discounted, because of the fear of large-scale public demonstrations against the governing regime. In an authoritarian, single-party political system such as China, leaders are more likely to be risk-averse in taking nationalist positions into account when making policy.

Because of the different nature of their political systems, China’s leaders are more likely to allow Chinese nationalism to influence Chinese foreign policy than Japan’s leaders are to allow Japanese nationalist groups to influence Japanese foreign policy.

Incidentally, if anyone is in China, don’t try typing “anti-Japan” into Google, or it will be cut off for a period of time. It’s been added to the “hotlist” of words that will get you special attention on the Chinese Internet. This has to do with the Chinese attitude toward civil society: if you can’t coopt it, destroy it.

August 16, 2005 @ 4:38 pm | Comment

Good post from Logan. The point you make about the difference between the PRC and pluralist systems is well-taken, but some of us would argue that Japan is not really a pluralist system at this point in its history, because there is no effective political opposition to the LDP, nor has there been for a very long time. Some of us hoped this would change when the Recruit scandals brought down the LDP (in 1993- first time they had been out of power since 1955) and ushered in Hosokawa (who issued an actual apology to Asia, causing an uproar), but he never had a chance. This is not to say, by the way, that the Japanese people don’t have nearly complete freedom of expression and access to information, which is denied to the Chinese people living in the PRC. The political system itself is rigged, however, so that there is little chance of the LDP losing power even temporarily.
I agree with many posters here that there is little that Japan can do to appease the PRC, but stopping the visits to Yasukuni and giving fair accounts of Japan’s intentions and actions during the war would be the right thing for Japan. Unfortunately, this would mean addressing the issue of Hirohito’s responsibility (see Herbert Blix on this point), something I doubt we’ll ever witness. I expect Japan to become even more reactionary as competition with China heats up and social conditions in Japan decline. The LDP will succeed in rewriting the Consititution, first getting rid of the no-war clause and next reducing the rights of women (two very clear current goals of the LDP), and PRC bellicosity will have the effect of helping the LDP (i.e., the Japanese right) further consolidate power.
For good discussion of this issue vis-a-vis the difference between Japan’s and Germany’s appraisal of WWII, see Ian Buruma’s “Wages of Guilt”.

August 16, 2005 @ 5:45 pm | Comment

This isn’t even about the Chinese protests anymore. Can’t you have an opinion on whether it’s OK for for Japanese to visit a shrine that celebrates war criminals without bringing in how there were riots in china every time? Whether the Chinese riot every year or whether they let bygone be bygone is irrelevant — visiting Yakusuni and trying to whitewash your nation’s historical war crimes is just plain wrong.

And this “the chinese will never be happy…if it’s not one thing it’s another” arguments just highlights all the different ways in which the Japanese are still playing footsie with fascists and atrocity deniers. Yakusuni just happens to be the most egregious aspect. Stop it and this chinese person would certainly have a little more respect for the Japanese government.

I think, fundamentally, you and I agree. Japanese rightists are idiots, and those who sympathize with them are sliding down a slippery slope to excusing war crimes. I also agree that the anti japanese protests in China were stupid and everything you say they were. So why have your posts consistently stuck in my craw so on this topic? Extending on my reponse to martyn…

There is two viewpoints you can take in this dispute when judging the actions of the Japanese and the Chinese — the moral/idealist viewpoint and the realist viewpoint. Going back to the confederate flag example. I grudgingly accept that the flag is a part of southern white culture from a realist point of view, even though from an idealist point of view I would prefer that southern whites repudiates it. While you rightly condemn the rightists dressing up in military garb, you seem to have no moral feelings about the leaders of Japan visiting Yakusuni beyond some very mild it-would-be-better-if-they-did-not-do-it type statements.

OK, let’s take it now from a totally realist point of view. Do you really think that at this point in history, China has more to lose by pissing of Japan than Japan has to lose by pissing of China, Korea, and whatever other country they brutalized in WWII? Yet you always speak as if China took a poop in the pool by encouraging the protests while Japan’s visits to Yakusuni and other concessions to rightists is something they can’t help doing and therefore should be politely ignored.

August 16, 2005 @ 5:48 pm | Comment

They’re both bad. But I have to look at it realistically. China showed in the 1970s it was willing to let things rest to a considerable degree when it came to Japan. Then, if I’ve read my history correctly (and I may well be wrong), years later China again brought the Japanese brutality charges to the forefront and used them as a political tool, generating nationalism (even if there was a lot of validity to the decades-old charges). There is a degree of cynicism at play here; the CCP knows what it’s doing when it revises its own textbooks and pushes the idea of martyrdom and victimization in the schools and in museums and in the media. The grief and outrage are real and justified, but cynically exploited to further a political end, similar to Bush exploiting America’s grief over 911.

The rightists strike me as self-deluded idiots, but nothing to laugh at or joke about – their determination to rewrite history and glorify barbarism is quite dangerous. I despise them and hope i made that clear.

About the politicians visiting the shrine, I don’t put that on the level of the rightists’ antics. Yeah, it’s too bad, but I do believe it is pointless to focus so much on the annual visit. If I saw malevolent intent or worship of war criominals by the politicians I might be more outraged. I condemn it, but the realpolitik part of me says, What’s the point? As Martyn said, it’ll just lead to China focusing on another Japanese horror, because there is no real desire to make peace. That would put to death what has proven to be a very useful tool and a great way to let citizens transfer their disatisfactions with their own lives and their own government onto a third party across the sea.

As to who needs who, don’t kid yourself. In the short term, China needs Japan plenty. Maybe it’s 50-50, but it is incorrect to think Japan needs China way more than China needs Japan. We’re heading in that direction but we’ve got a ways to go.

August 16, 2005 @ 6:19 pm | Comment

Battlepanda, my reading of richard’s blog entry that started this discussion leaves me with an impression different from than yours. He is saying don’t “let Japan off the hook”, irrespective of appalling behavior on the part of Chinese demonstrators.
Maybe part of the problem is a lack of differentiation or clarity in terms. When richard says “the Chinese are just as guilty and more so of revisionism”, I’m assuming he means the CCP, but earlier in the post he writes “the Chinese. . .appear enraged like an angry child”, referring I’m sure not to the CCP but to the protesters. Not meaning to pick on richard because I see a similar confusion of terms (confusing to me, at least) in other posts, while some attempt to differentiate between the two (see posts by Lin and others). I think maybe a bit more clarity in terms is in order. In fact, the main item that got me posting is that I felt there was a false distinction implied between the “rightists” in Japan and the ruling party.

August 16, 2005 @ 6:38 pm | Comment

Okay, I’ll buy that robuzo. I did mean it the way you interpreted it, but I’ll be sure to distinguish between the CCP and Chinese. In terms of the childish stuff, that was a reference to the action of the crowds, or at least some of them. But to at least some extent the CCP bears some responsibility for helping to foment the rage and provide an outlet (police-facilitated protests).

August 16, 2005 @ 6:43 pm | Comment

I would say the CCP bears the responsibility and, in fact, continues to seek to foment nationalistic rage against the Japanese (for now) for their own purposes. There is nothing constructive about the CCP’s approach to this issue, nor do I think they intend it to be constructive if that means actually trying to get the Japanese to do some soul-searching and change their behavior. In fact, as has been pointed out, they would seem to be deliberately feeding the most reactionary elements in Japan (who naturally respond in typical Pavlovian fashion).

August 16, 2005 @ 6:53 pm | Comment

Like I said, perpetual tug of war…

August 16, 2005 @ 6:57 pm | Comment

By the way, the Taipei Times today criticizes Japan’s apology, though with a somewhat softer voice than its brethren on the Mainland.

August 16, 2005 @ 7:02 pm | Comment

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